Temple of Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus

Temple of Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus
Temple of Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus

Often the great constructions that we all know are inspired by other smaller works that are unknown to the general public, so, for example, all art lovers know the importance that the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople has for Byzantine art, but few people know that Hagia Sophia is inspired by a previous church, the temple of Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus, an Orthodox church that today functions as a mosque and that we analyze here.


The church of Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus is one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture that has come down to us and, as we have already pointed out, served as inspiration for the architects who built the temple of Saint Sophia so that, in Istanbul it is known as Little Sofia.

The temple dates from the 6th century AD. and in its origins tradition and legend are mixed; it seems that the emperor Justin I sentenced his nephew Justinian to death for treason against his person and shortly before he was executed, the saints Sergius and Bacchus appeared in a dream of the emperor to assure him the loy alty of Justinian who, by way of thanks, raised the temple when he came to the imperial throne.

It seems that the temple was built between the Palace of Hormisdas and the church of San Pedro and San Pablo, soon becoming one of the most important religious centers in the city. With theneighboring church shared the narthex, but also the atrium and the propilia or entrance. On the outside, the temple has brick walls reinforced with rows of stone and on the floor plan the building has an octagonal plan that is inscribed within a square.

As for the interior of the temple, a beautiful two-story colonnade stands out, and despite the fact that today nothing of the interior decoration is preserved, the chroniclers of the period have left writings detailing a rich decoration with golden mosaics and marble walls. Today the church has undergone some modifications to adapt it to Muslim worship, however, it is believed that the internal decoration of the building disappeared with the iconoclastic fever of the 8th century.

Popular topic