Hagia Sophia which was converted into a mosque as a symbol of the conquest of Istanbul became a Cami-i Kebir of Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Sultans converted the Conqueror heirloom Hagia Sophia to the Islamic-Ottoman social complex with many restorations and reconstructions.
Conquering Istanbul was not just the dream of many statesmen it was also an important aim for Muslims for centuries. This aim was kept alive for Muslims with the Hadith of Prophet Muhammed: “One day, Istanbul would be conquered, the commander who conquered her is how pleasant commander he is and the soldier who conquered her is how pleasant soldier he is!”
According to rumour, When Sultan Mehmet heard about prophet’s good news, he went to the Hagia Sophia; he prayed two rak’ahs prayers as thanks to the God, and the first call to prayer was given here at that moment. After the Conquest, Conqueror Sultan Mehmet prayed again here on first Friday and then Hagia Sophia converted into the mosque as a symbol of conquest. After the conquest, Sultan Mehmet established the charity foundation for the development of Hagia Sophia and he dedicated 14000 gold as an annual income from various sources to the foundation.
Mainly there are Conqueror’s two endowments for Hagia Sophia: The paper version of the first endowment which is 66 meters long and gazelle skin is in the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre, Kuyud -i Ancients archive. Another endowment which is in Arabic is in the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum.
All of the Ottoman Sultans tried to convert the Conqueror heirloom Hagia Sophia to the Islamic-Ottoman social Complex with their new additions and restorations. Suheyl Unver said “Hagia Sophia with its madrasas, mausoleums, tombs, gathering place, elegant library built by I. Mahmud, gallery, fountain and school, could become our one of the most important Islamic sites.”
After Turkish Republic was founded, Hagia Sophia is converted in to the Museum by the decree of the Council of Ministers dated 11.24.1934. Unfortunately, there are some doubts for the authenticity of the Council of Ministers’ decision. Because according to Turkish Republic title-deeds of this estate dated 02.09.1936, land is recorded as the Tomb, landed property, madrasah and mosque.
After the conquest of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia became the most important place in Ottoman Empire for the top-ranked protocol to worship. Therefore, Hagia Sophia was also known as “Cami-i Kebir” which means great and grand mosque.
Hagia Sophia carried to the present day with Ottoman Sultans’ great efforts and under their auspices. When Hagia Sophia had a danger of collapse during the reign of Murad III, Architect Sinan saved Hagia Sophia from demolition by adding new support walls.
A library, fountain and primary school was built and added to the structure during the reign of Sultan Mahmud I. One of the major renovation and repairs for Hagia Sophia was made during the reign of Sultan Abdulmecit.
Swiss architect Gaspare Fossati renewed and strengthened the dome during his two years work (1847-49). The Famous Russian historian Uspenski tells flatly: ”The Turks showed more understanding than Crusaders army for the city works and structures, behaved more humanitarian, protected and repaired old works immediately.” One of the other historians Vlasto says: “What is the secret to remain standing of Hagia Sophia and other structures for centuries? These structures are evidence that Turks give importance to science and fine arts as much as their swords. “
Symbol of a culture and civilization:
Hagia Sophia has a great meaning which is far beyond than being any mosque for the Turkish-Islamic Culture. Hagia Sophia has an important place in the heart of the Ottoman State administration. Substantially Hagia Sophia today is the artefact of the Ottomans’ foundations and donations. Hagia Sophia has a unique calligraphy collection which does not exist in other mosque. The largest Sultan line, the highest dome letter and the biggest slab are all in Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia is full of qualified art reflections of our ancient civilization. As a result, “Hagia Sophia is not a stone, nor line, nor colour, nor body, nor the substance symphony, it is just any sense, only a sense!” according to master Necip Fazil said through.