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This is an extract from the Reading Materials in English that are available in the English and Education section of the website of the Liberal Party of  Sri Lanka, 

The entire text of Historical Buildings by Goolbai Gunasekara, covering twelve famous constructions, is now available on that website. 

Hagia Sophia


Hagia Sophia is a building that has changed much over the years. It is in Istanbul, which was earlier called Constantinople, and before that Byzantium. Byzantium had been a Greek city, established by Greeks who went into the Black Sea to trade. They needed a stopping place on the way, at a place where they could control entry into the Black Sea. 

Byzantium was therefore situated at the narrowest point of the straits that join the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, and separate Europe from Asia. Istanbul then developed over the centuries into a unique city, with half of it in Asia and the other half in Europe. It is at the crossroads of two great continents and many great cultures. 

Map of the Roman Empire


Byzantium was conquered by the Romans when they established their empire over the entire Mediterranean region, and it became more and more important as Roman commerce with Asia developed. At the beginning of the 4th century AD the Roman Emperor Constantine made it the capital of the Empire. He renamed the city Constantinople. He also became a Christian and made Christianity the official religion of the empire, and in 307 AD he built a church in his new capital. It was on the site of that church that another great emperor of Constantinople, somewhere around 537 AD, built a much more elaborate church, that was known as Hagia Sophia. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

August 2010
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