Did you know that there are columns in Hagia Sophia from the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus? More than 1000 years Hagia Sophia has been the biggest cathedral in the world. For 916 years it has been used as a churche and 480 years as a mosque. For about 1400 years, Hagia Sophia has served as a place of worship. But how did the columns from the Temple of Artemis from Ephesus get there? Read more below.
Hagia Sophia, Saint Sophia, literally means “Holy Wisdom” in Greek. The structure we see today of Hagia Sophia is actually the third church, located on the same spot. It has been there for 1400 years. Even though there are some flaws in the architectural design, it is still considered to be one of the most phenomenal structures in the world.
Hagia Sophia is seen as an 8th wonder of the world. In 532 it has been started to be built and has been finished in 537. But if you look further back in time, it’s origins are from the year of 360 A.D. when Constantine the Great has started to build the first Hagia Sophia church. That structured was called Magna Ecclesia, meaning The Big Church. In years time, the structure got destroyed by all kinds of riots. The second Hagia Sophia church was built by Theodosius II in 415. And this building also was teared down after the Nika revolt.
Then Emperor Justinian I decided to build a basilica, larger and more impressive than the previous two. The emperor meant this building to become a place of worship, but his real goal was to ask God for forgiveness for the killings in the Nika revolt. Plus, he hoped to regain the confidence and praise of the people of Constantinople.
Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus
After Hagia Sophia was destroyed for a second time, the architects Isidorus of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles were employed by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 532 C.E. The two architects, highly skilled in geometry and physics, oversaw the construction of the church in just six years. It is said that these two architects discovered a new kind of light mortar to be able to make the construction of the dome possible.
Hagia Sophia’s vast dome is pierced with windows, giving the impression that it floats on air. This special mortar might be the reason that Hagia Sophia is still standing after all these years. After the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the church was repurposed as a mosque, minarets and a mihrab were added, and giant disks bearing Islamic calligraphy were installed on the building’s walls.
A Cathedral built in 5 Years: Hagia Sophia
When Hagia Sophia was finished, it was thought to function as a place of worship and a cathedral. Because the emperor wanted it to be built as soon as possible and that it would be a unique structure. There were 10.000 people working. The only problem was how to quickly create marble columns. Emperor Justinian commanded that the columns had to be brought in from elsewhere. That place was the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, being the nearest place where the columns could be transported from. Nowadays, when you enter Hagia Sophia, you’ll notice that each column is different.
Because the building activities were done in such a hurry, there were some problems with the structures. The dome shifted at a few places and there were cracks in it. The architects made some changes and the building was finished in 537 as planned. But in 557 the dome collapsed from an earthquake. During the reparations, the south wall came down and many workers died. It took for years to restaure the dome. This time, it was built in an ellipse shape and therefore was much stronger as a structure. For more than 1000 years it stayed being the biggest cathedral in the world.
The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus
The history of the columns in Hagia Sophia, taken from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus are very old. The Temple of Artemis is one of the seven wonders of the world. It is believed that the history of this temple dates back to the 7th century BC. The building is made entirely from marble and was built by the Greek architect Chersiphron.
The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, also known as the Artemesium, was built to honor the Greek goddess Artemis, goddess of the moon and the hunt, by King Croesus of Lydia. It’s as big as a soccer field and has 127 columns. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was set on fire in 356 B.C. and was reconstructed and then it was destroyed again by the Goths. Remains of the temple were used in the construction of later buildings.