Hagia Sophia Mosaics

The Vestibule Mosaic

vestibule mosaic in hagia sophia

Located over the South door in the vestibule, the mosaic dates to the 10th century. The mosaic is thought to have been made to celebrate the withdrawal of the Russians from Constantinople in 971 or defeat of Bulgars by Basil in 1018.

Revealed by Fossatis just to  be plastered later, this mosaic panel was unveiled again by the Byzantine Institute.

In the mosaic, we see Justinian, Christ, Mary and Constantine. Sitting on a cushion, Mary the Virgin is holding Child Christ in her lap and a handkerchief in one hand. She is dressed in a maphorion with a hood. Theotokos is the title of Mary, the mother of Christ. Because of the infant Christ we see here, she is given that title in the mosaic. There are ‘’The Mother of God’’ monograms around them. The Child Christ is making benediction with the emphasis of a bigger hand than the other. He has a cruciform nimbus.

Justinian mosaic in Hagia Sophia

Justinian giving a model of Hagia Sophia to Mary and Christ.

In the mosaic, Justinian  is giving a model of Hagia Sophia while Constantine is presenting the city of Constantinople to Mary and Christ. Both of the Emperors are dressed alike. They have gold embellished crowns with pearls and emeralds, wear golden imperial clothes and golden leather shoes. Justinian looks older than Constantine with his wrinkles on the face. His inscription reads: ‘’Justinian, Emperor of Illustrious Memory’’.

Constantine Mosaic in Hagia Sophia

Constantine presenting the city of Constantinople to Mary and Christ

Constantine has an emotional face and he is younger then Justinian. The inscription around him says: ‘’Constantine, the great Emperor amongst the saints’’.


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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