Hagia Sophia Interior

Altar (Mihrab)

Altar of Hagia Sophia

Situated in the apse of Hagia Sophia, the altar which indicates the qibla was used by imams who lead the prayers. This semicircular niche is ornamented with tiles and verses from Quran. Both sides of it are with two giant bronze candlesticks, brought from a cathedral in Buda druing the Hungarian Campaign of Suleyman the Magnificient.

The first altar of Hagia Sophia had a canopy which broke in 558 and replaced by a silver one. The altar and its canopy was looted by the Crusaders in 1204. However, while it was taken by the Venetians by a ship, the ship opened and the Holy Altar sank into the sea near the island of Marmara. It has never been removed from the sea. Nicholas Politis narrates this event:

“…and this spot (where it sank) is always known by the calmness which is always here and the fragrance coming from it.”

About the author


Hagia Sophia Research Team (HSRT) consists of a group of people who likes to research Byzantine Heritage in Turkey by visiting and taking photos of the historical places.

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