It is next to impossible to find detailed information on these mosaics on the web.  The books that reference them are rare and expensive - I have added to my library over the years.  I wish I had a copy of the Fossati bookI have edited text where necessary; some of these articles are long and technical.  I have permission from the authors (those living) to publish these here and thank them for the privilege.


Virgin and Child from the Apse of Hagia Sophia

Enthroned Virgin and Child from the Apse Semidome

The first figural mosaic to decorate Hagia Sophia after the end of Iconoclasm by Patriarch Photius in 867.

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The John and Irene Mosaic from Hagia Sophia

John Comnenus - Eirene - their son Alexios - the Theotokos - Christ

This mosaic was created in 1122 and shows the Emperor John Comnenus, his wife Eirene, their son Alexios with the Virgin Mary and Christ.

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Empress Zoe Mosaic Hagia Sophia

Constantine Monomachos - Augusta Zoe - Christ

This mosaic shows Emperor Constantine Monomachos and his wife the Augusta Zoe on either side of an enthroned Christ Pantokrator.

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Mosaic from the Narthex of Hagia Sophia

Constantine - Justinian - the Theotokos - Christ from the Vestibule

High above the entrance to the inner narthex is a mosaic of Constantine and Justinian on either side of an enthroned Virgin Mary with Christ.

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Leo mosaic from the narthex of Hagia Sophia

Leo VI - the Theotokos - Archangel Michael - Christ

Leo VI placed a mosaic of himself, the Virgin, the Archangel Michael and Christ over the Imperial Doors.

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Seraphim from Hagia Sophia

The Holy Seraphim

The star covering the face of the Seraphim was recently removed and it was seen for the first time since 1848.

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Archangel from the Bema Arch

Archangel Gabriel from the Bema Arch

At the same time the Virgin and Child was place in the apse two archangels were added to the bema vault; one survives.

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Emperor Alexander from Hagia Sophia

Emperor Alexander from the Gallery

Emperor Alexander was co-emperor with his brother Constantine VII.  This mosaic is hidden away in the South Gallery.

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Patriarch John Chrysostom mosaic from Hagia Sophia

Church Fathers in the Great Tympana

There are three well preserved bishops in the north tympanon; they date from the late ninth century.

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mosaic from Hagia Sophia

Mosaics from the Room over the Vestibule

Hidden from the public, these mysterious mosaics are just a few feet away from thousands of tourists who know nothing about them.

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Bob Atchison


Icon of St. Michael the Archangel, looted from Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade and now in the Treasury of St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice. It is dated to the late 11th or early 12th centuries. It is 18 inches tall and 14 inches in width. made of gilt-silver and enamel, set with gemstones and glass. The gold cloisonne enamel work is amazing workmanship. It is impossible to know where this icon was kept in Constantinople, there are no records of its origin. Its size and opulence may mean it came from a private Imperial chapel.

Our Lady of the Pharos and St. Stephen's Chapel in the grounds of the Great Palace both had treasure houses of relics and precious works of art like this.

The icon of the Archangel is surrounded an entourage of military saints in enamel and points to his role as the the leader of the celestial army.

Icon Panel of the Archangel Michael, looted from Constantinople in 1204 and now in the Treasury of St. Mark's in Venice. It is 17 inches tall and 14 inches wide.  It is made of silver-gilt, enamel, precious stones, pearls and glass and is dated to the late tenth or early eleventh centuries.  The use of such images has been debated over the years, they could have been placed in a chapel iconostasis or carried in processions. Such and icon would be appropriate in a funeral chapel or a shrine to the Archangel himself.

The Emperor Issac II Angelos, one of the last Byzantine Emperors before the Fourth Crusade, poured enormous sums into a church he built for the Archangel near Constantinople, icons like this would have been part of its decoration.