Hagia Sophia, Trebizond c. 1801-1810. © Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA), Brussels (Belgium) 
The Church of Hagia Sophia (Saint Sophia) in Trebizond (today Trabzon) was built in the year 1250 under the guidance of Emperor Manuel the 1st (1238-1263), who ruled the Empire of Trebizond for 25 years. It is located near the seashore two miles west of the Comnenian fortress.

The monastery was disbanded a few centuries ago but the church still remains.

The church was built according to the plan of Hagia Sophia at Constantinople (Istanbul) but in a smaller size. It has the shape of a cross and is 22 metres long, 11.6 metres wide and 12.7 metres tall.  In the centre of the floor of the church there is an exceptional paved moasic with many beautiful multi-coloured stones. The author Texier visited Trebizond in 1836 and in his book Byzantine Architecture (London 1864) he wrote:

"The beautiful mosaic floor at the centre of the church can be considered one of the most extraordinary examples of the Byzantine marble mosaics which has survived until the present, perhaps the finest now in existence."

The historian Finley (1850) described the mosaic floor fairly fully in his manuscript journal. He said:

"The pavement under the dome is richly worked in porphyry serpentine coloured and gilt glass and most firmly cemented. This is true Byzantine style though better executed than usual"

West of the church and 24 metres in distance there is a tower 40 metres in height.  It was built in 1427. Many originally believed that this was the steeple of the church. But it is well known that at the time there were no bells in Trapezunta.There were bells only at Ayia Sophia at Constantinople. In Trebizond they used to strike the wooden semantra to mark the most important points of the divine liturgy.

From the ruins of the Ayia Sophia monastery it is recognised that the tower was a part of the monastery. The inside of the tower was full of excellent frescoes.

Article by Constantine Hionides.


Saint Sophia (Άγια Σοφιά Τραπεζούντας)




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