- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Ayia Sofia Review
The founding date of this church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the focal point of the city's Easter and Christmas celebrations, has been the subject of disagreements over the centuries. Ecclesiastics think it was built after the first Council of Nicea (AD 325), when Jesus was declared a manifestation of Divine Wisdom; other church historians say it was contemporaneous with the magnificent church of Ayia Sofia in Constantinople, completed in AD 537, on which it was modeled. From its architecture the church is believed to date to the late 8th century, a time of transition from the domed basilica to the cruciform plan. The rather drab interior contains two superb mosaics: one of the Ascension and the other of the Virgin Mary holding Jesus in her arms. This latter mosaic is an interesting example of the conflict in the Orthodox Church (ad 726–843) between the iconoclasts (icon smashers, which they often literally were) and the iconodules (icon venerators). At one point in this doctrinal struggle, the Virgin Mary in the mosaic was replaced by a large cross (still partly visible), and only later, after the victory of the iconodules, was it again replaced with an image of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. The front gate is a popular meeting spot.
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
My film "I Follow Apollo” presents the highlights of Greece, including Athens, Olympia, Meteora, Sparta, the Byzantine Empire, and a cruise to the islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, & Rhodes, Read more
Greek Islands in November on Constelation, weather great, should have been memorable for good things.
After sailing on Infiniti last year and really enjoying it we booked this cruise, would have though Read more
Hello fellow Fodorites! Read more
· News & Features
Ask around and most people will tell you to spend as short a layover as possible in Athens before booking... Read more
With the Aegean Sea as its backdrop, Greece serves a heavy hand of magical Mediterranean living.... Read more
A week in the Greek isles?... Read more