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Everything About Istanbul's New Yet Ancient Mosque - Hagia Sophia

Fatih is the oldest district of Istanbul with countless historical landmarks that are scattered around in every part of the district. Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Süleymaniye Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Fatih Mosque are just some of these remarkable historical landmarks that you can encounter in Fatih. Going on a walking trip filled with exploration in Fatih district during winter is an unforgettable experience you can have in Istanbul. There will be much less of a crowd in these popular tourist attractions and you will observe many picturesque sceneries.

From a historical standpoint, the importance and beauty of the Fatih district is perhaps immeasurable to anywhere else in Istanbul. The two mosques built on opposite sides, Hagia Sophia and the Grand Mosque, Topkapi Palace, as well as their museums, the Grand Bazaar, and Haliç the Golden Horn make any visitor spend a whole day in the district a daydream. Just visiting Hagia Sophia and the Grand Mosque alone should be a full day activity to explore and admire every inch of their architectural and scenic beauty. This 17 km2 district was once the capital of the Byzantine as well as the Ottoman Empires. The ruins leftover from them now supports a big portion of Istanbul's tourism sector.

Hagia Sophia shares the neighborhood of Fatih district with the Sultan Mehmet Mosque, where both are world wonders that alone attract millions. Hagia Sophia is now a mosque that was originally built as a Church. In contrast, its neighbor The Grand Mosque was commissioned to surpass the Church’s might. These are such huge attractions that the Istanbul Municipality has always worked transportation to guide the masses to them. A streetcar, the T1 Tramway with a route length of 19.2 km, transports minimum 320.000 people every day. The famous Grand Bazaar of Istanbul in Fatih is a walking distance away from many of Istanbul’s other significant landmarks such as the renowned Blue Mosque, or Basilica Cistern.

The Grand Bazaar is huge with its numerous inner streets that are home to various craft vendors. You can get lost in the Grand Bazaar and wander around in its never-ending streets to experience age-old traditions and customs of Turkish tradesman as well as to find bargains from countless products around the bazaar.

Hagia Sophia is one of the most popular landmarks of Istanbul and visited by millions of international tourists every year and it was completed in 537 as a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica. It turned into an imperial mosque after the conquest of Istanbul.

Sophia was first built to be the central cathedral of the Byzantine Empire. Its beauty and design were unmatched in the world, until the Ottoman Empire's capture of Istanbul from the Byzantines. By the orders of Sultan Ahmed the First, a mosque was to be designed on a hill overlooking the Hagia Sophia. This new mosque was to be more glamorous than even Hagia Sophia. Once it was completed, the building took over the fame of the city in its mantle. Hagia Sophia was closed for a long time to the public, until recently reopened as a mosque. The two architectural beauties still stand on two hills overlooking one another and welcome any visitor to Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia has been deemed as one of the world’s most beautiful buildings. Once home to a mosque and a church, it has become one of the world’s most famous stopovers. It was held as a church for 916 years, the after Sultan Mehmed’s conquest; it was modified into a mosque and stood that way for more than 480 years. It was then transformed into a museum in 1935 that now allows visitors to come in daily to view the calligraphy, tiles, mosaics, and the Sultans lodge.

Hagia Sophia has Turned into a Mosque

And now, after almost a hundred years of anticipation, Hagia Sophia has become a mosque once more. According to Washington Posts, July 24 2020 news, Thousands of people — including the president and senior cabinet ministers — attended the ceremony in Istanbul’s historic Fatih district, as a police helicopter circled overhead. Worshipers crammed into an outside courtyard and the surrounding streets, prompting the Istanbul governor to close the area because of concerns over the novel coronavirus.

Inaugurated in the Byzantine era, the nearly 1,500-year old building overlooking the Bosporus was the largest church in the Christian world for nearly a millennium, then an Ottoman mosque for hundreds of years before it was transformed into a museum in 1934 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the secularizing founder of the Turkish republic.

Earlier this month, Turkey’s top administrative court ruled to annul Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum, in a victory for Turkish Islamists and nationalists who had long pushed for the site’s conversion back to a mosque. Some Christian religious leaders, including Pope Francis, expressed concern, and the Trump administration said it was “disappointed” by Turkey’s decision.