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FOSSATI, Gaspard. Aya Sofia Constantinople, As recently restored by Order of H.M. the Sultan Abdul Medjid, London, P. & C. Colhaghi, 1852.

Gaspare Fossati (1809-1883) and his brother Giuseppe Fossati (1822-1891), were born in Switzerland to a family of architects. They studied in Venice and Milan. Until 1833 Gaspare had studied several specimens of Romanic and Renaissance architecture. He participated in the excavations in Pompey, and subsequently travelled to Russia, where he was soon appointed official architect to the Czar's court in Saint Petersburg, and was entrusted with designing the Russian embassy in Istanbul. In Istanbul, Gaspare and his brother Giuseppe, together with other Italian and local architects, worked in more than fifty works, mainly public Ottoman buildings, in the context of the reformation period (Tanzimat).

In 1847 Sultan Abdülmecid entrusted the Fossati brothers with the conservation and restoration of Haghia Sophia, as the monument had not been repaired in centuries. Works in Hagia Sophia lasted two years. More than eight hundreds men worked to reinforce the dome and surrounding semi-domes, cleaned the mosaics, replaced the chandeliers, and renovated the mihrab and the mimbar. Also, the huge circular tables with calligraphic elements were added to the four pillars.

During their stay in Istanbul the Fossati brothers designed several foreign embassis (Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Persia), two Italian theatres and many houses of Ottoman officials and foreign merchants. After the death of their patron Vizier Reşid Pasha, the Fossati brothers returned to Switzerland in 1858. They built their home in Ottoman style. Gaspare moved to Milan in 1862. Among other projects, he designed Duomo Square, Galleria Vitoria Emmanuelle II and Palazzo Marino.

The Fossati brothers published this edition in London in 1852, after the conclusion of the works and the magnificent inauguration of Hagia Sophia on 13th July 1849. It includes a series of lithographs with impressive views of the monument's interior, which had been used as a mosque since 1453. The introduction contains an overview of the architectural stages of the building, and the lithographs are signed by Louis Haghe.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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