Istanbul: Hagia Sophia
The seaward end of the peninsular is dominated by the immense scale and presence of Hagia Sophia, for 1000 years the largest building on earth, representing the triumph of Byzantium. Dedicated by Justinian on December 27th 537 — for more than 900 years it was the cathedral of Constantinople (the first church on the site was built in 360 by Constantine’s son; it burnt down in 404 and, in turn, it’s replacement burnt down in 536). Two decades later severe earthquakes caused a partial collapse and subsequent rebuilding , and a rededication on Christmas Eve 563 by Justinian shortly before his death — further damage was caused by earthquakes in 989 and 1346, leading to further repair and strengthening, but the building today is essentially that of Justinian. The Byzantine rule ended on May 29 1455 when Sultan Mehmet conquered Constantinople after a long siege and Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque (Aya Sofia), serving as one of the imperial mosques of the Ottoman empire — finally, in 1935 almost 1400 years after its dedication by Justinian, it ceased to be a religious foundation and was converted to a museum by the secular Turkish Republic.