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Hagia Sophia Underground Tunnels: Revealing the Hidden Depths

The grand Mosque Hagia Sophia has attracted thousands of visitors since its reopening as a Mosque after being converted from a Museum in 2020.

But do you know a network of tunnels of Hagia Sophia, cellars, and graves lies beneath this hypnotic wonder?

The Hagia Sophia tunnels are an intricate network of underground passages and chambers beneath the famous Hagia Sophia basilica. 

These tunnels have mainly remained unseen and unexplored for centuries, adding an air of mystery and intrigue to this already captivating architectural wonder.

During the early Christian period, people knew about the existence of crypts and catacombs. 

However, historians and archaeologists believe a larger space exists beneath the church.

Discovery and Exploration of the Tunnels

The discovery of the Hagia Sophia underground tunnels is due to recent restoration and conservation efforts. 

Workers stumbled upon an entrance to the hidden tunnels during one such restoration project in the late 20th century.

This discovery led to an exciting era of exploration and documentation.

Meanwhile, a team of architects is exploring “the underground Hagia Sophia.”

They are examining the intricate structure beneath the building, reconstructed thrice in history dating back to Byzantine times.

In a remarkable achievement two years ago, researchers successfully mapped the intricate tunnels beneath Hagia Sophia

These tunnels were crucial in preventing moisture damage by functioning as a natural ventilation system. 

Stretching from Hagia Sophia, tunnels extended to the distant Princes Islands (Kinaliada), encompassing the vast city of Constantinople. 

Beneath the earth lay a colossal cistern capable of accommodating a sailing galley. 

These underground passages beneath Hagia Sophia connect to cryptic chambers and secret writing rooms. 

As a result of sieges, treasures were discreetly concealed beneath the revered structure, safeguarding them from harm.

Using advanced technology, they created three-dimensional visual representations of the tunnels, which span approximately one kilometer.

Significance and Function of the Tunnels

Researchers have discovered a fascinating three-chamber tomb alongside the tunnels, 4 meters beneath the ground in the northeastern section of the mosque. 

This ancient tomb, believed to originate from the fourth century A.D., adds another historical significance to the site. 

But this is not the only one; there are many such tombs behind the Hagia Sophia.

Some cellars and tunnels are accessible from the trapdoor under a chestnut tree southwest of Hagia Sophia, just two meters below the surface.

Most of the underground spaces of Hagia Sophia were built for plumbing and ventilation.

Researchers believe that people likely used the grouping of structures beneath the Hagia Sophia as storage depots for materials they did not want to expose.

These tunnels’ presence also contributed to the main basilica’s structural stability by distributing the weight of the massive dome more evenly.

Plan your visit to Hagia Sophia easily by checking the visiting hours, finding convenient ways to reach the location, and ensuring hassle-free parking arrangements.

Featured Image: Dailysabah.com

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