Byzantine Empire Heritage

Little Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Underground Basilica Cistern

Little Hagia Sophia (Küçük Ayasofya Camii), located about some 10 minutes walk from the Hippodrome downhill the road on the southwest face of the Historic Hill. It was built in the 530s as the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus by the East Roman Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. It shows an early experiment of the Roman architectural skills prior to the construction of the Great Church Hagia Sophia. After being converted to a mosque in 1500s the Ottoman-style decoration done inside looks pleasant for a mosque, but bears no resemblance to its original, most possibly, gold mosaics covering the interior and colored marble decorations.
The Great Palace Mosaic Museum  houses a large collection of mosaics unearthed during a series of excavations carried out in the close vicinity of the Blue Mosque. It was believed that these mosaics were used to decorate the pavement of a peristyle court of the Great Palace in years of the East Roman emperor Justinian. The mosaic quality here is not as colorful as those of the Chora Moseum but interesting to see that they represent an earlier artistic era absent of religious motifs but instead showing hunting scenes and scenes from mythology.
Hagia Sophia, the greatest achievement of  the East Roman architects. They changed the dimensions and the style of the Roman  Architecture with Hagia Sophia which remained  unrivalled for almost 1000 years. The St. Sophia that we see today is actually the third religious building on the site, and has stood proud against time since 537 AD. Conflagrations started by unrest had burnt two earlier buildings to the ground. Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) was built by two master engineers in the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-65 AD). After the conquest the young sultan Mehmet the Conqueror proclaimed it a mosque soon after his conquest of the city 29th May, 1453. After the establishment of the Turkish Republic, this  awe-inspiring  edifice was proclaimed a museum, as it is today.
The opening hours  is from 9 am to 4:30 pm but closing time may be extended up to 7 pm in high seasons.
Be warned: !
Underground Cistern, for Locals "sunken palace" or (Yerebatan Saray). This covers an area of 70m by 140m sqms and constitutes 336 recycled marble columns of various shapes. It was built in 6th C for the survival of the city in days of long siege or drought. This antique reservoir is known to be another master piece of Roman engineering.  
Be informed:  open 7 days a week!       
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