The monumental church of Hagia Sophia, or Holy Wisdom, built on the direct order of the Emperor Justinian in only five years, was inaugurated and consecrated on 27th December 537. For over 900 years, until the fall of Constantinople in 1453, it served as the most prestigious building of the Byzantine empire and the centre of Orthodox Christianity, and was known as the Megale Ekklesia (great church). For almost 500 years thereafter it was the gem of the Muslim world and the Ottoman Empire, ans was used as the Cami-i Kebir (grand mosque) of the sultans. And for the last 70 years, as one of the great treasures of the Turkish Republic, it has continued to provoke admiration in visitors from all over the world. Throughout this period, Hagia Sophia has dominated the city of Istanbul, fascinated visitors and given rise to numerous myths and legends.