Examples of Christian Art in Hagia Sophia

The Virgin holding Christ flanked by Justinian I and Constantine. Southwest entrance mosaic.

These images are from Hagia Sophia’s time as an Eastern Orthodox Church.  They are examples of the literal depictions of humans that the Christians used in decorating Hagia Sophia.

Mosaic of Jesus Christ from Hagia Sophia


Throughout the history of Hagia Sophia, gold tesserae was used frequently to decorate the interior.  The below image of the Virgin and Christ shows brilliant gold tesserae.

The Virgin and Christ


“Christians like faces; Muslims like words.” (Brown 395)  In Dan Brown’s Inferno, Langdon explains the differing approaches of Islam and Christianity in representing “the word.”  As Dan Brown explains, Islamic tradition held that only god could create life, so man should not create images of life in paintings or mosaics, while Christians portrayed god and Jesus visually through art. (Brown 394-395).

Excerpt from “From Christ to Muhammed: the Transformation of Hagia Sophia from Basilica to Imperial Mosque.”



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