The Hagia Sophia
It's the story of a farmboy, an actress, an unruly mob, and a bacterium. The Roman Empire evolved, and based in Constantinople, it reached a new golden age under the leadership of Justinian. His success is best seen in the masterpiece church: the Hagia Sophia, or Ayasofya in Turkish.
The Hagia Sophia was the greatest cathedral in Christendom for a thousand years, then a resplendent mosque, and now a fully restored museum. But shortly after its construction highlighted the peak of Eastern Roman prosperity, a bacterium came to Constantinople and brought the empire to its knees.
Joining me to talk about Justinian, the Hagia Sophia, and the plague is the great Robin Pierson, host of the History of Byzantium podcast. Robin recently visited Istanbul and talks about exploring its Byzantine sites as well as how Turkish food charmed even his palate.
There are fish sandwiches to eat and Ratatouille references to enjoy.
Heather, Peter. The Restoration of Rome: Barbarian Popes and Imperial Pretenders
Lonely Planet Istanbul
Lord Kinross. Hagia Sophia
Norwich, John Julius. Byzantium: The Early Centuries
Paul the Silentiary, Descriptio S. Sophiae
Procopius. The Secret History
Procopius. Wars of Justinian
Rick Steves' Istanbul
Rosen, William. Justinian's Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe
Music by Turku, Nomads of the Silk Road from their album Alleys of Istanbul