Hagia Sofia has undergone many changes in its 1,500-year lifetime, with both natural forces and desecration taking their toll. The church was structurally damaged by earthquake only a year after its dedication, and again in 557 and 559. In 562 it was restored and reinforced by Isidoros, nephew of the original architect, who also raised the dome by about 20 feet (6.25 meters). Further earthquake damage in 869 and 889 closed it for five years. The Iconoclasts vandalized the original mosaics in the eighth and ninth centuries, but most were replaced. Hagia Sofia’s finest ornaments were plundered by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, and the building was seriously damaged. Large buttresses were added to the north and south facades in 1317, but that did not prevent considerable earthquake damage about thirty years later. Mehmet the Conqueror took Istanbul for Islam in 1453, and Hagia Sofia, although retaining its name, was put to use as a mosque. Large timber medallions with Koranic texts were hung on the walls of the interior and the Christian mosaics whitewashed over. Minarets were added at various times during the Ottoman period. The building became a museum in February 1935.

At the end of the twentieth century Hagia Sofia stood on the United Nations World Heritage Watch List, one of the world’s 100 most threatened buildings. “Despite … ongoing support, including a grant [$100,000 in 1997] from American Express, water penetration, tourist control, and uncertain structural conditions remain threats. Areas of the lead roof have cracked, roofing members have weakened, and leaks are damaging frescoes and mosaics.” Restoration and repairs of the roof have been effected, but more money is needed to prevent further structural damage and to install a long-term dilapidation monitoring system.

See also

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

Further reading

Mainstone, Rowland J. 1988. Hagia Sofia: Architecture, Structure, and Liturgy of Justinian’s Great Church. New York: Thames and Hudson.

Mark, Robert, and Ahmet S. Çakmak, eds. 1992. Hagia Sofia from the Age of Justinian to the Present. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Halles Centrales (Central Markets)

Paris, France

Once described by novelist Emile Zola as the “ventre de Paris” (belly of Paris), Les Halles, situated in a square northeast of the Louvre, was the popular and vibrant market quarter. It was alive during the day with merchants and shoppers and at night with vehicles bringing produce from the French provinces and other Mediterranean countries, night butchers preparing meat for the next day’s business, and inquisitive patrons from nearby restaurants and bars. Originally the market comprised open-air stalls, but between 1853 and 1866 a series of pavilions was built to create a covered market of grand scale. Known as the Halles Centrales and designed by architect Victor Baltard (1805–1874) with Felix-Emmanuel Callet (1791–1854), the project was commissioned by Emperor Napoléon III as part of the mid-nineteenth-century remodeling of Paris planned by Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann.

Influenced by his experience of “modern” life in London, Napoléon III was intent upon establishing Paris as an imperial city capable of exploiting new developments in industry, trade, and transport. He aimed to improve housing conditions, remove slums (home to many of the insurgents of the French Revolution of 1789 and nineteenth-century uprisings), establish public parks, and construct grand streets, public buildings, and monuments. The gigantic Halles Centrales was an iron-framed complex that became the prototype for covered market buildings in France and elsewhere, just one of many new structures that emerged during the “Haussmannization” of Paris.

Baltard’s first design was for a classical building with masonry walls. However, the emperor requested that he use iron instead, as a demonstration of France’s industrial prowess. Pressure from a public wanting a spacious, well-lit, and well-ventilated structure forced the architect to adopt a design not unlike the railroad sheds of the 1830s and 1840s. He planned a series of rectangular pavilions laid out in a grid pattern and connected by broad streets, all but one of which was covered. Initially there were six pavilions, but the number was soon extended to ten; a further two were added in 1936. Based on a