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Before it fell entirely, the Roman Empire split into two parts. The eastern half, ruled by the Greeks, was called Byzantium. Constantinople (Istanbul) was Byzantium’s capital city, and Hagia Sophia (meaning “Divine Wisdom” in Greek) was its Imperial Church. When Hagia Sophia’s patron, Emperor Justinian I, entered the church for the first time, he’s said to have exclaimed, “Solomon, I have surpassed you.” Quite a humble guy, wasn’t he?

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