Sancta Sophia
            The Greatest Church
                 in Christendom -
               Byzantine Empire,
               548 AD - 1453 AD
Constantinople/Istanbul
The Roman Emperor Constantine had both created the new
eastern capital, which took his name, and brought
Christianity to the Empire.  This eventually led to both a
political and religious division of the Roman Empire.  
Constantinople, also known as Byzantium, was the new Rome,
later capital of the Byzantine Empire.  And its great domed
edifice, Sancta Sophia, became the central shrine for the
Eastern Orthodox Church, which broke with the Pope and
the Roman Catholic Church, a schism that never healed.        
The Emperor Justinian merely wanted to build the greatest
Christian Church in the world, and this mosaic shows him
presenting Sancta Sophia to Mary and Jesus.  It's name
means Church of the Divine Wisdom in Latin.  However,
the Byzantine Empire would replace Latin with Greek.
The interior of Sancta Sophia contains numerous
golden Byzantine mosaics, which are being restored.
In this close-up, the Byzantine Emperor places himself on the
right side of Jesus.  The Empress is on the other side.  No
separation of church and state in the Byzantine Empire.
The ceiling and walls of Sancta Sophia were  covered by
religious art works, such as this Madonna and Child.
Much restoration was still underway when I visited in
1998.  Scaffolding greatly limited interior photography.
If you have a high speed internet connection, watch the
Intrepid Berkeley Explorer's free video of Turkey by clicking
on:
What the Sultan Saw