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Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia)
Famed for its architecture, this 6th-century Byzantine masterpiece is Istanbul’s most iconic sight. Its dome was considered a revolution in the history of architecture. The building that stands today was actually the third church to be built on this site. The original 4th century structure was built by the first Emperor, Constantine the Great. It was once a house of worship that served several religions. It started out as a Greek Eastern Orthodox basilica, then it was converted to a Roman Catholic Church. It then served as a mosque from 1453 until 1931, before becoming the secular museum in 1935.
This great structure features decorative mosaics depicting various religious scenes. Five sultans and their families rest at the southeast corner of Aya Sofya. The tombs date from as early as 1574.
Photo: Mehmet Cetin, Shutterstock
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