From Byzantine jewels to the Byzantine architectural wonder Hagia Sophia, the splendors of East and West merge into legendary artistry. Translated from Greek, Hagia Sophia means "Holy Wisdom."
Constantine The Great, Roman Emperor from 306 to 337, founded the Eastern Roman Empire in Byzantium (soon called Constantinople, then Istanbul) in a move to bring coherence and integration of the East into the vast empire. He was the first emperor to convert to Christianity, and as well, proclaimed tolerance of all religions throughout the Roman Empire.
The structure we see today was designed by a Greek scientist and physicist at the bequest of Emperor Justinian. Constructed between 532 and 537, it was a cathedral until 1453 when it was converted to a mosque with the addition of the distinctive minarets. Ordained in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey, Hagia Sophia remains one of the greatest architectural marvels and holy sites in the world.