Hagia Sophia needs little introduction. It is one of the most important heritage sites in the world and represents a melting point of different cultures, religions and people.
First, it was built as a Byzantine Orthodox cathedral in the year of 537. For almost 1000 years, it had been world’s largest cathedral and the center of Orthodoxy. When the Ottoman Empire conquered Istanbul during the reign of Mehmet II, it was converted into a mosque and, ever since, it has been one of the most sacred mosques of the Islamic world.
Today we will be focusing on a very short period of Hagia Sophia’s history, a two year restoration period between 1847-1849. In the second quarter of the 19th century, Ottoman Sultan Abdulmejid I ordered a new restoration of Hagia Sophia. Over the two years, 800 laborers worked under the supervision of the famous Swiss-Italian architect brothers, Gaspari and Guiseppe Fossati.
After the restoration was completed in 1849, Belgian lithographer and water-colourist, Louis Haghe, created over a dozen lithographs of Hagia Sophia.
In this article, we are going to take a quick trip to 1800s Hagia Sophia through Haghe’s lithographs and see how this wonder looked like.
What is Lithography?
*”the art or process of producing a picture, writing, or the like, on a flat, specially prepared stone, with some greasy or oily substance, and of taking ink impressions from this as in ordinary printing.”
*definition taken from dictionary.com