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The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the prior one having been destroyed by rioters in the Nika Revolt.It was designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles.

The focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years, the building witnessed the excommunication of Patriarch Michael I Cerularius on the part of Humbert of Silva Candida, the papal envoy of Pope Leo IX in 1054, an act that is commonly considered the start of the East–West Schism.

In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Empire under Mehmed the Conqueror, who ordered this main church of Orthodox Christianity converted into a mosque.

Both churches acted together as the principal churches of the Byzantine Empire.

Writing in 440, Socrates of Constantinople claimed that the church was built by Constantius II, who was working on it in 346.

The bells, altar, iconostasis, and other relics were destroyed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints, and angels were also destroyed or plastered over.

Islamic features—such as the mihrab, minbar, and four minarets—were added.A fire started during the tumult of the Nika Revolt and burned the second Hagia Sophia to the ground on 13–14 January 532.Several marble blocks from the second church survive to the present; among them are reliefs depicting 12 lambs representing the 12 apostles. Further digging was forsaken for fear of impinging on the integrity of the building.During the subsequent riots, this first church was largely burned down. A second church on the site was ordered by Theodosius II, who inaugurated it on 10 October 415.The basilica with a wooden roof was built by architect Rufinus.It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.It remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.Hagia Sophia was, as of 2014 From its initial conversion until the construction of the nearby Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque of Istanbul) in 1616, it was the principal mosque of Istanbul.The Byzantine architecture of the Hagia Sophia served as inspiration for many other Ottoman mosques, such as the aforementioned mosque, the Şehzade Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Rüstem Pasha Mosque and the Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex.The construction is described in the Byzantine historian Procopius' On Buildings (Peri ktismatōn, Latin: De aedificiis).Columns and other marbles were brought from all over the empire, throughout the Mediterranean.

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