Features Podcast

The many identities of Hagia Sophia, past and present, with Bob Ousterhout

Hagia Sophia is back in the news. To understand what is happening, we need to know the complex history of this building as a church, mosque, and museum, and the many parties that have sought to claim it. In this episode of Byzantium & Friends, Bob Ousterhout illuminates this rich history, with a focus on the last century and a half, the current political forces, and the priority to preserve the history of the monument for all who wish to study and experience it.

Bob Ousterhout is Professor Emeritus of History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of the magisterial survey Eastern Medieval Architecture: The Building Traditions of Byzantium and Neighboring Lands (Oxford University Press, 2019), and the article: ‘From Hagia Sophia to Ayasofya: Architecture and the Persistence of Memory,’ from İstanbul Araştırmaları Yıllığı 2 (2013).


Byzantium & Friends is hosted by Anthony Kaldellis, Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics at The Ohio State University. You can follow him on his personal website.

You can listen to more episodes of Byzantium & Friends through Podbean.

Check out Anthony also on Episode 1 of the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Podcast.

Top Image: Hagia Sophia interior – by Fusion of Horizons / Flickr