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CBN.com - Hagia Sophia

  • The building was not designed by architects but by scientists: a physicist and a mathematician.
  • The Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the cathedral of Seville in Spain in 1511.
  • During its period as a church, the Hagia Sophia was the seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchy. For a brief period from 1204-1265, the church was a Roman Catholic cathedral, after Constantinople was conquered by Crusaders.
  • Many Christian mosaics still remain covered. There is currently much controversy over the proposal that the Islamic calligraphy on the dome of the cathedral should be removed; to reveal the image of Christ as “Master of the World” said in old records to be underneath the calligraphy.
  • Today, use of the complex as a place of worship (mosque or church) is strictly prohibited. However, in 2006, it was reported that the Turkish government allowed, a small room in the museum complex to be used as a prayer room for Christian and Muslim museum staff.

Constantine XI Palaiologos

  • Constantine XI had survived two wives and was about to marry a third when the siege began. His third wedding never took place.
  • Constantine’s death is the subject of conflicting stories. Some say he was beheaded and that his body was found and identified by his purple boots, while the Ottomans sent his head around Asia Minor as a display of Ottoman power. Most say he was never seen again, and was probably buried in a mass grave along with his soldiers.
  • Constantine’s last recorded words in battle were, “The city is fallen, but I am alive.”
  • An old Greek legend refers to Constantine XI as the “Marble King,” saying that when the Ottomans entered Constantinople, an angel rescued the emperor, turned him into marble and placed him in a cave under the earth near the Golden Gate in Istanbul, where he waits to be brought to life again and reestablish Christian Constantinople.
  • The double-headed eagle, the imperial emblem of the Palaiologos family, was also used by the Holy Roman Empire and later adopted by the Russia.

Mehmet II

  • Mehmet was related by blood to the Byzantine Imperial family; his predecessor, Sultan Orhan I had married a Byzantine princess named Theodora. Mehmet himself would also take a Byzantine princess, Hatun Alexias, as one of his many wives.
  • From a young age, Mehmet was trained by his Islamic teachers to believe that it was his duty to conquer Constantinople, to fulfill a hadith (saying) of Mohammed, which prophesied that Islam would first conquer Constantinople, then Rome.
  • Before he died, Mehmet also tried to fulfill the second half of the prophecy by invading Rome, but only made it as far as southern Italy.
  • Mehmet was often critical of the passive rule of his father, Sultan Murad II. On one occasion, Mehmed II wrote to his father: "If you are the Sultan, come and lead your armies. If I am the Sultan, I hereby order you to come and lead my armies."
  • Mehmet’s first wife was a Christian from Albania. She was the mother of Mehmet’s successor, Sultan Bayezid II.
  • Mehmet died in 1481 at the age of 49. Two of his doctors, one Italian and one Persian, were suspected of poisoning him on orders from Mehmet’s son, Bayezid II.


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