Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

This magnificent Byzantine church turned Ottoman mosque was made a museum in 1935 by Kemal Ataturk, the father of the Turkish Republic. It's one of Istanbul's proudest icons.
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Top sights in Istanbul

Bosphorus Strait

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Hagia Sophia

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Bosphorus Bridge

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Sultanahmet District

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4 historical facts about the Hagia Sophia

This magnificent Byzantine church turned Ottoman mosque was made a museum in 1935 by Kemal Ataturk, the father of the Turkish Republic. It’s one of Istanbul’s proudest icons, so here are four things that shaped this showcase of Christian and Islamic Empires.

As a site of worship, it predates history
The grand church was converted to a mosque after the Ottoman conquest in 1453. However, the site has also been home to two previous churches and a Pagan temple!

It was built to eclipse the Temple of Solomon
Justinian I strained the breadth of his Empire to have the Hagia Sophia built-in 537. On its completion, he’s said to have proudly boasted, “Oh Solomon, I have surpassed thee!”

Many of its treasures are in Venice
Not making it to Jerusalem, the Venetian-led Fourth Crusaders instead took Constantinople. Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice still houses many of the spoils!

It’s taken one hell of a beating!
As well as being sacked in the Fourth Crusade, the Hagia Sophia’s heavy dome has collapsed several times due to earthquakes. It wasn’t completely stabilized until 1859!

Insider tips

What are the opening times?

You can visit the Hagia Sophia between the hours of 9:00AM and 7:00PM from April 15th to September 31st, and between 9:00AM and 5:00PM from October 1st to April 14th. It is closed in the early days of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha. Book tickets in advance to avoid the queues!

How to get there?

The Hagia Sophia is just a short walk from the Sultanahment metro and tram stops. Close to many of Istanbul’s historic attractions, it’s also covered on most city walking tours!

Good to know

When should I visit?

9:00AM to 5:00PM in the winter, 9:00AM to 7:00PM in the summer. Check holiday schedules to avoid closures.

How to get there

Take the metro or tram to the Sultanahment stop.

Is it expensive?

The ticket price is 30 TRY, which is roughly $11.

Will I need a guide?

It will definitely help. Might be worth it to check out our best-selling tours.

What people are saying about Hagia Sophia

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Excellent, engaging and educational tour
Life was a superb guide! Friendly, helpful and incredibly knowledgeable of Turkish history. Not only did she give us lots of information on all the beautiful sites we visited but she also told us about modern Turkey giving us a great picture of how Turkey has grown over the past 1600 years or so. Highly recommend this tour. It was also really nice having such a small group (me, my wife and Latife!).

Istanbul: Full-Day Private Old City Tour with Lunch reviewed by Christopher

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ An amazing experience, extremely well organized, worth every penny.
I don’t know where to start! Everything was extremely well organized. Everyone was very polite, always on time and very pleasant to be with. The local guides were very knowledgeable (and I am an art historian), friendly, polite, genuine. I am a woman in her 60s, I travel solo and never felt lonely or scared. I met wonderful people who shared the same tours. I could not recommend this tour enough. An amazing cultural and human experience.

Turkey: 7-Nights Tour of 5 Cities Starting from Istanbul reviewed by Suzanne

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, wonderful trip!
Fantastic! My guide was knowledgeable, enthusiastic and interesting to listen to. He took us to all the interesting spots and filled us in with the relevant history. Far better than seeing it on your own. We went to the Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia. He was also kind enough to see us onto the bus going back to the airport once it was over.

Istanbul: Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia Small-Group Tour reviewed by Lindsay

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Beautiful day and a beautiful lunch with a small group
This tour was fantastic, I had such a nice time. I was thrilled to find there were only five of us on the tour and it was a great balance between structure and the freedom to explore the mosques. The lunch was delicious and we had plenty of time to explore the Grand Bazaar in the afternoon. Highly recommended.

Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Small Group Tour reviewed by Carli

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