20 Things We Like – Video 17: Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Istanbul, where East meets West across the Bosphorus strait, is one of our favourite cities. Istanbul is chock full of fantastic buildings and places, but the Hagia Sophia is by far our favourite building in Istanbul. That's why it makes it onto our "20 Things We Like" video series to celebrate 20 years of Clay Architecture.

I first fell in love with the Hagia Sophia when I visited the city in 1989, working at Branson Coates Architecture as a Part 1 assistant on a project to convert an old dyeworks factory into a nightclub and restaurant in Taxim. Taxim Nitepark was the first project where I taught myself to design using geometry— a disco stair and ramp. To do that as a novice and then to step into the masterclass which is the Hagia Sophia was almost overwhelming.

We last visited the Hagia Sophia in 2015, when these photos date from. It was Camilla’s first time and I was excited to show it to her. It didn’t disappoint. I think it is impossible for the Hagia Sophia to disappoint.

Built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian 1 as the Christian Cathedral of Constantinople for the Byzantine Empire between 532 and 532AD, designed by the Greek Geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Trailes, the building has withstood world wars, the fall of Empires, survived more than a dozen devastating earthquakes and has been a church, a mosque, a museum, and is now a mosque again.