The Hagia Sophia Mosque (on türkisch Ayasofya-i Kebir Camii) is one of the most important monuments in the History of world architecture that has survived to this day. The history of Hagia Sophia Museum, which occupies an important place in the history of Istanbul, can be traced back to the early 500s. This building was also very important in conquering Istanbul.
The Hagia Sophia and the neighboring Topkapi Palace can be considered the best and most visited points of interest & sights of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia was once a church and a Museums, it has been declared one of the greatest works of architecture in the world and is considered the eighth wonder of the world.
Hagia Sophia was built as a church in 325, rebuilt in 537 and converted into a mosque by Fatih Sultan Mehmed after the conquest of Istanbul in 1453.
It has been used as a museum since 1935, then by decree of 10. July 2020 to officially declare Hagia Sophia a mosque after Turkey's Administrative Court annulled a 1934 decision that paved the way for Hagia Sophia to be used as a museum.
Facts about Hagia Sophia
and Istanbul and one of the most visited attractions in the world. So what's behind it?
- The name "Hagia Sophia" means "holy wisdom" in Greek.
- It was built in 325 AD and collapsed 2 times and was rebuilt 3 times.
- It was built in 532 AD as the largest place of worship in the world.
- After the Ottoman Empire conquered Istanbul in 1453, it was converted into a mosque.
- It was turned into a museum in 1935.
- With a decree dated July 10, 2020, Hagia Sophia was officially declared a mosque.
- It is considered the eighth wonder of the world.
History of Hagia Sophia
The current building of Hagia Sophia is the third building that has a different architectural style due to the city ruler.
Roman and Byzantine periods the Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia was built in 325 after the strong desire and will of Constantine the Great to move the capital of the Roman Empire to Istanbul. After a severe earthquake in 360, this building was restored by Constantine the Great and called the "Cathedral (Megale Ekklesia)".
To Time of the Byzantine Emperor Justininos (527-565), the building suffered severe damage from riots and fires and has been restored several times.
Finally, on behalf of Emperor Justinanos, within 5 years it was built under the direction of the famous architects Anthemios (Anthemios of Tralleis) and Isidoros (Isidor of The nation) rebuilt. From an imperial point of view, the task of building Hagia Sophia was a task for which they did not have enough experience. Therefore, they had to fall back on proven manuals of mathematical principles for concepts and constructions.
Hagia Sophia was the largest church of the Eastern Roman Empire and was used as a church for 916 years and was also the place where the empire was crowned until 1453 when Fatih Sultan Mehmed in Istanbul was conquered by the Ottoman Empire.
Ottoman period of Hagia Sophia
After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, Fatih Sultan Mehmed II converted the church into a mosque. Hagia Sophia was used as a mosque for 482 years. During the Ottoman Empire, the sultans gave special importance to Hagia Sophia. Every effort has been made to protect and preserve Hagia Sophia, the symbol of conquest.
The Hagia Sophia received four minarets early on. The fluted minaret was built by Sultan Bayezid II (1481–1512). In 1573, during the reign of Sultan Selim II, the two oldest minarets were demolished and replaced by subsequent buildings.
In 1574 the baptistery was converted into the mausoleum of Selim II.
During the time of Sultan Selim II (1566-1574), the famous Ottoman architect Sinan added and reinforced the external support structure to strengthen Hagia Sophia. Sinan also made the dome very durable by lining the gaps between the columns that supported the dome of Hagia Sophia and the side walls with arches.
Hagia Sophia in the Turkish Republic period
After the founding of the republic Turkey Hagia Sophia was closed between 1930 and 1935 for restoration work. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was built by order of Ataturk, the founder of the republic Turkey, and converted into a museum by decision of the Council of Ministers.
In 1985, the Hagia Sophia was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Finally, on July 10, 2020, the Turkish Administrative Court issued a decree that officially declared Hagia Sophia a mosque. Earlier, Turkey's Administrative Court overturned the 1934 decision to pave the way for Hagia Sophia to be used as a museum.
The first prayer took place on Friday, July 24, 2020.
Sights in Hagia Sophia
Many archaeological finds are on display in the courtyard, as well as a Şadirvan (mosque fountain) and a mausoleum of five rulers, the so-called Türben, in which the sultan, prince, princess and sultan's wives are buried: Selim II, Murad III, Mehmed III. , Mustafa I and İbrahim.
Hagia Sophia exterior:
- Sultan Tombs
- Treasury Building (Skevophylakion)
- Public fountain
Hagia Sophia interior:
It seems as if you have entered the sacred world of Christianity and Islam, under the shell-shaped apse and the majestic dome, in a mysterious and mystical atmosphere, an assemblage of architecture and works of art dating back thousands of years.
- Calligraphic discs
- Sultan's Lodge and Muezzin's Lodge
In 1453, as the Turks began their last successful attack on Constantinople, the last Eastern Roman Emperor, Constantine XI. the golden storm bells are ringing. The bell was completely destroyed by the Turkish conquerors.
Frequently asked questions about Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
What is special about the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul?
Hagia Sophia has been declared one of the greatest works of architecture in the world and is considered the eighth wonder of the world. It owes its name above all to its unique architecture: it was built in 325 AD and collapsed twice and rebuilt three times. It was the largest place of worship in the world in 532 AD.
After the Ottoman Empire conquered Istanbul in 1453, it was converted into a mosque. It was converted into a museum in 1935 and officially declared a mosque by decree on July 10, 2020.
What does Hagia Sophia mean?
Hagia Sophia means "Holy Wisdom" in Greek, "Ayasofya" in Turkish, or "Church of Sophia" is a former Byzantine church built between 532 and 537 AD.
What is Hagia Sophia used for today?
It is used as a mosque. Visitors can come for self-guided or guided tours.
Is entry to Hagia Sophia free?
Yes, entry to Hagia Sophia is free.
What is the ticket price for the Hagia Sophia guided tour?
The cost of a tour guide is around 25-30 euros.
How long can you stay in Hagia Sophia?
Once inside, you can stay as long as you like. To visit Hagia Sophia, it takes about 1,5 hours to explore the architecture, the mosaics, the architecture, the royal dome, the upper gallery, etc.
When is the best time to visit Hagia Sophia?
Hagia Sophia is open 24 hours a week. The best time to visit Hagia Sophia is from 9:00 in the morning to 12:00 in the afternoon. This is the quietest time as it is a mosque and you may find crowds during prayer time.
Entry, tickets and tours for Hagia Sophia
- Admission: Hagia Sophia is open every day.
- Tickets: Entrance to Hagia Sophia is free.
- Tours: With the Istanbul Welcome Card you can get guided tours.
Tips for visiting Hagia Sophia
- Both Muslims and non-Muslims can enter Hagia Sophia.
- Tickets are not required to enter Hagia Sophia.
- You should take off your shoes before entering the mosque carpet.
- You are asked to respect the mosque's five daily prayers, not to make loud noise, not to run and not to stand in front of the prayers.
- Some parts of the mosque used for prayer are temporarily closed to tourists during the Friday lunchtime service so as not to disturb them.
- Women should wear a headscarf when entering Hagia Sophia. Free headscarves are provided at the entrance.
- Photos are allowed, but you should not take photos of people praying.
- Since Hagia Sophia has a thousand-year history, guided tours are highly recommended.
- Plan at least 60 minutes to visit. However, 90 minutes is much better.
- Plan your day with Topkapi Palace and the Basilica Cistern, as these are within walking distance of Hagia Sophia.
- Visit Hagia Sophia during the day and better in the morning because the natural light inside will allow you to better appreciate the interior.
- If possible, avoid visiting Hagia Sophia on weekends and Friday prayers around noon.
Hagia Sophia tours
This is the top choice we recommend for first-time visitors. We always recommend to choose an extended English speaking guide exclusively provided by several historical guides of Istanbul.
This is provided by the Istanbul Welcome Card and is highly recommended.
How do I get to Hagia Sophia?
Hagia Sophia is located in the district Blue of district of Istanbul Fatih, am Sultanahmet Square, opposite the famous Blue Mosque.
The most convenient way to get to Sultanahmet is by taking the Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (T1 line).
- The nearest tram stop is Sultanahmet.
- Sultanahmet Square and most connecting streets are closed to vehicles, except for trams and coaches.
- From Partition from take the funicular to Kabatas (from Taksim place) or the funicular to Karakoy (from Tünel Square), then take the Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (line T1).
- If you are staying in a hotel in the Sultanahmet area, you can easily walk to the museum.
Address : Hagia Sophia, Ayasofya Camii, Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey