The Hagia Sophia was built in the year 360 AD, and was renovated in 415. In 537, Justinianus ordered the re-building of the church in magnificent style. Miraculously, the ground floor has 40, and the upper floor has 67 columns. It has a surface of 7500 m2, and 1,070 windows. From the day it was opened, the Aya Sofia has been subject to both glamorous days and defeat.
Restoration of Fossati brothers
The most famous restoration of the Aya Sofia was ordered by Sultan Abdulmecid and completed between 1847 and 1849, under the Swiss-Itailan architect brothers Gaspare and Giuseppe Fossati. The brothers consolidated the dome and vaults, and revised the decoration of the exterior and the interior of the building. The mosaics in the upper gallery were totaly cleaned. The old chandeliers were replaced by new ones. They were inscribed with the names of Allah, the Prophet Muhammed, the first four caliphs names, and the two grandchildren of Mohammed, by the calligrapher Kazasker Mustafa İzzed Effendi, the greatest calligrapher of that era. In 1850 the architect Fossati built a new sultan's gallery connected to the royal pavilion behind the mosque. Outside the Aya Sofya, a timekeeper's building and a new medrese were built. When the restoration was finished, the mosque was re-opened with ceremonial pomp on 13 July 1849.
Aya Sofia converted into a museum
In the 1930s, the American Thomas Whittemore made a request to clean up the mosaics. In 1932, the process started and the mosaics were made visible again. In 1935, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk transformed the building into a museum. Although use of the complex as a place of worship (mosque or church) should be strictly prohibited, in 2006 the Turkish government allowed the allocation of a small room in the museum complex to be used as a prayer room for Christian and Muslim museum staff.