‘Building Wonders’: Haghia Sophia

Robert Ousterhout

Readers in the US, a treat is coming to your TV screens this Wednesday (February 25). Providence Pictures is releasing the third installment in its Building Wonders series. The first, on the Colosseum, aired on February 11, the second on Petra aired on February 18, and the third, entitled Hagia Sophia – Istanbul’s Ancient Mystery, will premiere at 9pm on WGBH Channel 2 and PBS on Wednesday (with re-runs at 2am, 5am and 1pm on Thursday, on WGBX 44). The programme features Robert Ousterhout, author and a recognised specialist in Byzantine architecture.

In this series, ancient writings and technology, along with expert opinions from historians, scientists, architects and engineers, are used to explore how the Colosseum, Petra and Haghia Sophia actually worked, architecturally speaking. For the Haghia Sophia part, Providence Pictures worked with earthquake engineers in Istanbul to build an eight-tonne brick-and-mortar model of the 1,500-year-old building, placed it on a seismic shake table and pushed it to collapse. The experiment was designed to investigate how Haghia Sophia has been able to withstand centuries of earthquakes while buildings around it collapsed.

If you’re not in the US, chances are the programme will be available on YouTube in the coming weeks. French speakers, there is already a version dubbed in your language that you can watch below.

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About proverbs6to10

Interested in Byzantium and Patrick Leigh Fermor
This entry was posted in Istanbul, Radio & TV Programmes, Video and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to ‘Building Wonders’: Haghia Sophia

  1. FV says:

    Thank you for the heads up. Can’t wait to watch it!

  2. Idyll Sophia says:

    The first name of the Church was ‘’Megale Ekklesia’’ which means ‘’the Grand Church’’. The first Hagia Sophia was built in 360. It was a wooden-roofed basilica, built on the site of a pagan temple. On the contrary to the popular belief, it was donated by Constantinus II not by Constantine the Great. (Source: https://hagiasophiaturkey.com )

    When its roof was burned by a fire in 404 and destroyed mostly in a second fire in 414, a great believer of orthodoxy Theodisius II dedicated another church in 415. Among the ruins of Theodisius’ church, you can see the architrave of twelve sheep that represents the twelve apostles of Christ in front of the monumental entrance.

    As a step on the way of a secular country, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum by the order of Atatürk and reopened in 1935.

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