The Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire, also referred to the Eastern Roman Empire, ruled the Mediterranean for centuries, from the end of antiquity to the high Middle Ages, before it was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453.
Constantinople, today's Istanbul, was at at the heart of the Byzantine Empire. The metropolis was founded by Constantine the Great on the Bosporus in 330, where previously the Greek settlement of Byzantion (660 BC) had been.
In the 6th Century, in the largest city of the Middle Ages, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I built the largest church in the world. Hagia Sophia. This imperial church set completely new architectural standards with a 32 metre dome.
Mehmet II, the seventh Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, conquered Constantinople on 29th May 1453 and thus sealed the end of the Byzantine Empire.
After the conquest of Constantinople, Hagia Sophia was declared a mosque in 1553. Nearly 4 centuries later, Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey (1923), transformed the building into a museum.
Reversion to mosque:
On 10 July 2020, the Turkish Council of State revoked the Turkish government's decree on assigning the Hagia Sophia cathedral museum status, instead reverting the status of the Hagia Sophia back to a mosque and on 24th July 2020, the first Friday prayer took place inside the building.
This selection of images gives an insight into the unique, over 1100 years of Byzantine history.