Trebizond Hagia Sophia Building

In the present, there are three Hagia Sophia buildings with original name in Turkey.

1-HAGIA SOPHIA, ISTANBUL (537): The first is most gigantic and most famous from these.





Second and third Hagia Sophia buildings aren’t as famous as Istanbul Hagia Sophia but both of so Second and third Hagia Sophia buildings aren’t as famous as Istanbul Hagia Sophia. But both of so important construction for Eastern Rome Art.



Trebizond Empire was established in modern-day Turkey’s northeast area. And it correlate with Fourth Crusade. In normally Fourth Crusade was planned toward to jerusalem, again muslims. But afterwards Catholic Crusader Army chanced their thougt and take aim to orthodox Eastern Rome.

Fourth Crusade

Between 1202-1204, Catholics looted Constantinople (Istanbul today). And Latins captured Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire). Even if Romans gain again the empire after, Latin’s ruled Eastern Rome for a time.

Map of Despotate of Epirus
Flag of Despotate of Epirus
Map of Empire of Nicaea
Flag of Empire of Nicaea
Map of Empire of Nicaea
Flag of Empire of Nicaea

When Eastern Rome fell, Roman Rulers escape from Constantinople and established new regional states such as Despotate of Epirus, Empire of Nicaea and Trebizond Empire.

All of this states, claim that they are successor of Roman Empire. And They target to revive to Eastern Rome.

Trebizond Empire was established by Komnenos Family. Komnenos Family are from Trebizond surrounding (Eastern Black Sea) but they served Byzantine Administration so they adopt byzantine culture.

Trabzon has been one of the most profitable port cities for Europe, Iran and Central Asia throughout history. (A. Hahanov, 2004) In addition, the fact that Maçka Valley (Matzouka), which was the most fertile geographical area of the empire, was located on the caravan route between Trabzon and Tabriz contributed greatly to the enrichment of the empire. (Keçiş, M.)

Trebizond have a mountainous area but they have coast. Therefore, they improved in navigate and commerce. Venetians and Genoeses establish commerce colonies in this regio throughout history.

During the reign of Manuel I Megas Komnenos, who reigned between 1238 and 1263, Trabzon continued to be an important commercial city. The Hagia Sophia church was also built during the reign of Manuel I.

In the 13th century, during the reign of Andronikos I, the Trabzon Empire collided with the Seljuks, and the Seljuks besieged Trabzon but could not conquer it. On the other hand, the Trabzon Empire, with the Turkish Seljuks and the Mongols, and later in the 14th Century They always tried to keep good relations with the Turkmen Beys who surrounded them. (Keçiş, M.)

For this reason, despite of Eastern Rome was conquered by Mehmed the Conqueror, Trebizond Empire achieve continue own existence again Strong Ottoman Empire. But in the end, Mehmed the Conqueror conquered Trebizond.

Fatih Sultan Mehmet kimdir? Kaç yaşında tahta çıktı, kaç yaşında vefat  etti? İşte İstanbul'u fetheden 2. Mehmed'in hayatı… - Son dakika haberleri
Mehmed the Conqueror


Hagia Sophia was built as a church during the Trabzon Komnenos Empire (1204 – 1461).

As a result of the conquest of Trabzon by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, muslim population increased in Trebizond and Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque.

Ataturk establish Secular Turkey Republic in 1923. During the republican period led by Atatürk in Turkey, Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum.

Hagia Sophia, which served as a museum until 2013, was converted into a mosque again in 2013.

Therefore, Hagia Sophia has seen more than one different administration and as a result, the building has many cultural layers.

Hagia Sophia shows Komnenos Family’s strong for this reason the building has a symbolic value. so Hagia Sophia has a wide view and can be easily seen especially from the sea. Considering that the city of Trabzon was developed in maritime, of course, this situation is not a coincidence.

Actually, Hagia Sophia isn’t only a church. It is a piece of monastery complex.

Ruins of the old chapel in the north of Hagia Sophia


While the Hagia Sophia structure was a church, the main entrance of the building was on the south side. After the Muslims dominated the region, Hagia Sophia began to be used as a mosque. According to Islamic belief, Muslims face the qibla while praying. (The qibla points to the Kaaba.) The imam leads the congregation in prayer at the front place called the mihrab. When the church was converted into a mosque, the portico section was closed with a wall, since there was a portico in the mihrab place.

Before the wall is built
After the wall is built

In 1923, the Turks declared the republic. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the country took on a secular understanding. During this period, the Hagia Sophia was no longer a mosque and turned into a museum. The portico on the south wall was converted to its original form and the interior frescoes were exposed.

Conservation works in the main apse

In 2013, the Hagia Sophia museum was converted into a mosque again, and it still continues its life as a mosque today. The mihrab area (south portico) of the building was covered with glass this time.

Mihrab (Adem Kaçıran archive, 2021)
South Porch (Adem Kaçıran archive, 2021)


-Trabzon Hagia Sophia measures 35 x 27 meters, including its semi-open areas. The height of the dome to the top is 18.5 meters.

-It has the form of a closed Greek cross as a plan feature.

Plan, Charles Texier

-Trabzon Hagia Sophia has an eclectic style.
While the muqarnas embroideries used in Seljuk architecture can be seen in the building, Corinthian column capitals, which is a Hellenic understanding, can also be seen.

Therefore, it can be said that Hagia Sophia contains both Byzantine architecture and the styles of states such as Seljuk and Georgia around it.

Muqarnas Stonework, (Adem Kaçıran archive, 2021)
Corinthian capital, (Adem Kaçıran archive, 2021)


In the years when the building was used as a church, the south façade was the entrance façade of the building. Therefore, the most magnificent and most decorated façade of the building is the south façade.

In the center of the pediment, a clover-shaped space strikes forward. There is an oyster motif under this space. There is a single-headed eagle statue on the top of the clover. Below right and left, there is a griffin and a centaur statue.

At the same time, there are reliefs moving from right to left on the facade, depicting the expulsion of Adam and Eve from heaven.

South Facade (Adem Kaçıran archive, 2021)
Clover-shaped space (Adem Kaçıran archive, 2021)
Centaur motif (Adem Kaçıran archive, 2021)
Griffin motif (Adem Kaçıran archive, 2021)


Hahanov, A., Trabzon History of Panaret, 2004

Keçiş, M., The Empire of Trebizond Relationships with its Vicinity in the
Foundation Period

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