Justinian 1st was emperor of
Work on Hagia Sophia started in 532. Tradition tells us that Justinian hired 10,000 men to do it. These men were led by Isidore of Miletus, a scientist, and Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician. They finished the building in five years using materials from all over the empire.
In 553 and again in 557, earthquakes caused cracks in the main dome. In 558 a third earthquake caused the main dome to fall in. Justinian ordered the rebuilding of the dome under the direction of Isidore the Younger. He was the nephew of Isidore of Miletus. This rebuilding was finished in 562.
Once it was rebuilt, Hagia Sophia was huge: 269 feet (82 meters) long, 240 feet (73 meters) wide, and 180 feet (55 meters) high. For a thousand years it was the biggest church building in the world.
Through the long centuries, Hagia Sophia has suffered damage from fire, enemy attacks, and other earthquakes. So far it has been repaired each time.
Roman Catholic Crusaders looted
In 1453 Muslims captured
Major work to make the building stronger was led by the architect Mimar Sinan during the reign of the sultan Selim 2nd (1566-1577). Under the sultan Mahmud 1st (1730-1754) the existing building was again repaired. Other buildings to house a school, a soup kitchen, and a library were added to it.
The most important reconstruction of Hagia Sophia was done under the sultan Abdülmecid (1839-1861). It was supervised by two brothers, the architects Gaspare and Giuseppe Fosatti. It involved major changes to the existing building and the construction of new buildings. It was finished in 1849.
Hagia Sofia stopped being used as a mosque in 1931. It has served as a museum since 1935.