Little Hagia Sophia, also known as the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus, is a former Eastern Orthodox Turkish church. It has been formed to present honor to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, and was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. It is a Byzantine building having a central dome of appealing shape and style, which was erected during 6th century by Justinian. It is one of the significant early Byzantine buildings in Europe.

Little Hagia Sophia

Location of Little Hagia Sophia

The building of Little Hagia Sophia is standing in Istanbul, Turkey, in the district of Fatih. It is close to Kumkapı, short distance away from the Marmara Sea, nearby the ruins of the Great Palace, and in the southern Hippodrome. This has now been separated from the sea via the Sirkeci-Halkalı suburban railway line and the coastal road, Kennedy Avenue.

History of Little Hagia Sophia

According to scientists, during the reign of Justin I, his nephew Justinian had been accused to plot against the throne and was sentenced to death. Later on, he was set free, and he dedicated a church to the saints. The church was constructed between 527 and 536 AD, and was an early act of the reign of Justinian I. later on, the church underwent various reconstructions. A new church was formed at the border between the First and Τhird Regio of the City. This took the form of a central complex, and has been survived till today.

The new church was constructed before Hagia Sophia from 532 to 537. It is considered that the design of the building was presented by architects, Isidorus of Miletus, and Anthemius of Tralles. However, the current building is very different from what was founded in ancient times.

During 536 and 537, the Palace of Hormisdas had become a Monophysite monastery. In 551, Pope Vigilius had found refuge in this church from the soldiers who were all around to take his life.

Exterior of the Church

Without any doubt, it is a beautiful and very appealing church, having marvelous exterior and interior. Externally it has been built with the technique of that period in Constantinople, using bricks sunk in thick beds of mortar. The walls are reinforced by chains made of small stone blocks.

The central plan of the building got repeated in the basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. It used to serve as a model of Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, having an octagon shape. Its umbrella dome has 16 compartments and eight flat sections, all of which alter with concave sections and stand on eight polygonal pillars.

Interior of the Church

Just like exterior, the interior of the church is very pretty. It has a two-storey colonnade, running along the northern, western, and southern sides. It is bearing a inscription in twelve Greek hexameters which were formed to dedicate to the Emperor Justinian, his wife, Theodora, and Saint Sergius. The columns of the church are of verd antique and red Synnada marble; its lower storey has 16, while the upper has 18 columns.

By the whole, the church is a wonderful tourist attraction for anyone who has deep interest in religious things or wants to explore the ancient treasures of Turkey. So, if you ever plan to come to this country of beauties, don’t forget to see its churches/mosques.


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