Hagia Sophia in Istanbul maintained its position of being the largest church in the world for a thousand years till other churches and cathedrals came into being. But it is regarded as symbolic of architecture of the Byzantine empire. The construction of the church changed the course of history of the Byzantine architecture. It remains one of the most popular of monuments in Istanbul attracting as many tourists as other tourist places in the city.
The site where the building stands is the same site where two other similar churches stood at a time. They are believed to have been razed down by rioters. All nuances of the Eastern Orthodox Church are believed to converge into Hagia Sofia.
The monument has witnessed many different civilizations. The Eastern Orthodox Church left its stamp on it between 537-1204 AD. The Roman Catholics took over from that point of time, and from 1204-1261 AD, they left their impressions in the architecture.
The Eastern Orthodox Church again took over between 1260 and 1453 AD. But the most prominent and most important trend that was to last for centuries to come was given by the Ottoman Empire between 1453-1931 AD. It served as the inspiration behind building many other monuments like the Blue Mosque and the Pasha Mosque. The mosque or church has been converted into a museum now since 1935.
Today, Hagia Sophia stands out as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey. More than 3.3 million tourists visit the museum every year.