It's said that when the Byzantine Emperor Justinian entered his completed church for the first time in AD 536, he cried out " Radiance to God that I have been judged deserving of such a work. Oh Solomon, I have outdone you!" The Aya Sofya formerly the Hagia Sophia was the emperor's swaggering statement to the world of the wealth and technical ability of his empire. Custom kept up that the area surrounding the emperor's throne within the church was the official center of the world.
Through its conversion to a mosque, after the Ottoman armies conquered Constantinople, to its further conversion into a museum in the 20th century, the Aya Sofya has remained one of Istanbul's most cherished landmarks.