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6/50.- Istanbul, Iznik Tiles in Hagia Sophia, 17 c

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The first Basilica of Hagia Sophia was dedicated in 360 AD. Burned down only 44 years later, it was rebuilt but destroyed again during the Nika riots. In the times of Justinian, the basilica was reconstructed by skilled master builders brought from all over the empire. The new church of the Divine Wisdom was dedicated in 537, being the most daring project of its time. Partially destroyed in an earthquake, was repeatedly repaired and reinforced, each time adding more buttresses and ribs to the work of Isidorus the Younger. Desecrated in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade by Christians of the West, Hagia Sophia knew more 250 years of glory as the greatest basilica of Christiandom; in 1453 it fell to the armies of Mehmet the Conqueror who turned it into a mosque for the rest of the Ottoman ruling. Known to Muslims as Aya Sofya, it was over the time painted and plastered to hide the representations of life prohibited by the Islamic law; the floors were covered with carpets and a mihrab (a prayer niche indicating the direction of Mecca) and minbar (a pulpit) added together with calligraphic adornments, Iznik tiles, wooden panels bearing the name of Allah. In the picture, a tiled wall in Hagia Sophia; the Iznik tiles belong to the 17c.

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