19th-century Lithographs of Hagia Sophia

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

South-eastern side of Hagia Sophia, seen from the Imperial Gate of the Topkapı Palace (Lithograph by Louis Haghe in 1852, after renovation)
View of the north nave of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. On the right one of the two lustration urns from Pergamon, transferred to the mosque during the reign of Sultan Murat III. (Lithograph by Louis Haghe in 1852)
Nave and south aisle from the north aisle (Lithograph by Louis Haghe in 1852)
Northern gallery and entrance to the matroneum (a gallery supported by columns or pillars, opened to the interior of the church) from the north-west (Lithograph by Louis Haghe in 1852)
View of the upper gallery from the south-west (Lithograph by Louis Haghe in 1852)
Southern gallery from the Marble Door facing west (Lithograph by Louis Haghe in 1852)
Southern gallery from the Marble Door facing east (Lithograph by Louis Haghe in 1852)
Main (western) facade of Hagia Sophia, seen from courtyard of the madrasa of Mahmud I. (Lithograph by Louis Haghe in 1852 after renovation)

More from Old Archives