1453: Fall of Constantinople/
   Conquest of Istanbul
He is Ottoman Empire Sultan Mehmet II, better known as
Mehmet the Conqueror.  His reign began in 1451 with the
single objective of taking Constantinople.  He cut the city off
from any possible European aid, then launched a combined
attack by sea and land that brought his forces to the gates of
Constantinople.  The last Byzantine Emperor would not
surrender, dying in the final assault, which took the city,
renamed Istanbul, new capital of the Ottoman Empire, on
May 29, 1453.  That date is still celebrated over 550 years
later in modern Istanbul.
Mehmet II converted Sancta Sophia into a mosque known as
Aya Sofya.  The minarets shown above were the most visible
signs of change in the former church.  The Byzantine mosaics
and other Christian art were plastered over, which
preserved them.  Although the Byzantine Empire ended, it
was survived by the Orthodox Church, also known as
Eastern Orthodox, the Christian faith of Greece, Russia, and
other countries.
The interior of Aya Sofya now included this
Moslem prayer niche, facing towards Mecca.
Aya Sofya was a mosque for nearly 500 years, before Turkey's
President Ataturk ordered that it be the museum it is today.
If you have a high speed internet connection, watch the
Intrepid Berkeley Explorer's free video of Turkey by clicking
What the Sultan Saw