Trabzon Hagia Sophia Museum

The Trabzon Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) Church, which is a museum today, was built by Manuel I Komnenos(1238-1263), one of the kings of the Empire of Trabzon (Trebizond).

After the conquest of Trabzon in 1461 by Sultan Mehmed II (the Conqueror), the building was converted into a mosque and became a charitable foundation. The Hagia Sophia attracted the interest of travelers and researches visiting this city for hundreds of years. Evliya Çelebi (1648), Pitton de Tournefort (1701), Hamilton (1836), Texier (1864), Şakir Şevket of Trabzon (1878) and Lynch (1893) were among those people whose writings on Trabzon are famous and who appreciated this building.

It is known that the mosque that had been in ruins was renovated in 1864 upon the encouragement of Rıza Efendi of Bursa. During the World War I, it was used as a storehouse, a hospital and later again as a mosque, successively. Between 1958 and 1962 it was restored thanks to the co-operation of the General Directorate of Foundations and the University of Edinburgh, and opened to visits as a museum after 1964.

This beautiful example of the late Byzantine architecture is a cross-in-square under a high dome. It has an entrance area called the narthex and three naves. The middle nave terminates in a pentagonal apse and either of the side naves terminates in a semi-circular apse. There is a chapel above the narthex. The building has three porticoes entrances on the north, west and south sides.

The dome and its drum are decagonal. The dome rests on four monolithic columns, arches and pendentives. Around the main dome, the building is covered with different vaults and the multi-gabled roof is covered with tiles. The stone reliefs of superior workmanship reflect influences of Seljuk Period Islamic art as well, besides the Christian art. Medallions with geometric interlacing patterns seen on the facades of the north and west porticoes, and muqarnas niches seen on the west facade display the characteristic features of Seljuk stone carvings.

The south facade of the building is the most glorious one. Here, the creation of Adam and Eve is depicted on a frieze:

Scene 1: The creation of Adam and Eve.

Scene 2: Adam and Eve living in the heaven.

Scene 3: The forbidden fruit.

Scene 4: The banishment of Adam and Eve from the heaven.

Scene 5: The depiction of the first murder (Cain and Abel).

On the keystone of the arch on the south facade, there is the single­headed eagle motif, the symbol of the Komnenos dynasty that ruled Trabzon 257 years long. A similar eagle depiction can be seen outside of the main apse, on the east side. On this facade, there are composite creatures such as centaurs and griffins, pigeons, square panels with stars and crescents at their centers and medallions with floral motifs.

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Under the main dome of the building, there is a floor mosaic made of polychrome marble in the opus septile technique.

On the frescoes, which constitute an important part of the decorations in Hagia Sophia, themes from the Bible are depicted. The main icon on the dome is the Christ Pantocrator, reflecting the divine aspect of Jesus Christ. Under this icon, there are inscriptions and the frieze of angels. Depictions of the twelve apostles are between the windows. There are different compositions on the pendentives.

Scenes such as the birth of Jesus Christ, his baptismal, his crucifixion and the doomsday are depicted.

Address : Fatih Mah.Ayasofya Sok. Merkez

Web Site :

E-mail :

Phone : (462) 223 30 43

April-October (Summer Opening Time) 09:00

April-October (Summer Closing Time) 18:00

November-March (Winter Opening Time) 08:00

November-March (Winter Closing Time) 17:00

Open everyday

Ticket booths are closing 30 minutes or an hour before the museum closing time.

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