Hagia Sophia
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Hagia Sophia: Tours & Tickets

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5 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 five things that shaped this showcase of Christian and Islamic Empires.

As a site of worship it predates history

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

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

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!

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!

The Ottomans changed its appearance drastically

The Ottomans changed its appearance drastically

The Hagia Sophia became a mosque in 1453, when the Ottomans seized Constantinople. Its many alterations included the erection of minarets and the purging of Christian iconography.

Our 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.
  • 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.
  • How to get there
    Take the metro or tram to the Sultanahment stop.
  • Additional information

    • Book tickets in advance to avoid the queues!

What people are saying about Hagia Sophia

Very informative tour. Friendly, helpful your guide.

Nothing to criticise. Great tour, lovely guide. People on my group were late (people collected before my hotel). So I had to wait an hour before pick up, their communication was good. I wonder what you can do about that? It's not very fair when other people cause you to have much less time in these spectacular mosques. Guide did his best to get us in quickly.

Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Small Group Tour Reviewed by Nicola, 22/04/2019

A guided tour definitely enhances your experience.

Our guide, Adil, was knowledgeable, courteous and experienced. I definitely recommend hiring a guide if you've never previously visited. Also reduces wait time for admission, especially during holy dates. The guide handed us a paper ticket for admission when we arrived. The guide communicated effectively via text before our appointment. You will be free to walk about Hagia Sophia after your your ends. There are restroom and concessions outside of the Hagia Sophia. There are opportunities to purchase souvenirs inside and outside the building. Prices are reasonable. Excellent experience. Excellent dollar value.

Hagia Sophia Tour with a Historian Reviewed by David, 22/04/2019

Good. We will revisit and use your service again.

Pluses - Very interesting routes. Staff was helpful and explained well. Boat trip was great. Minuses - Blue route comes one every hour and the last bus was at 16.00.

A fantastic site and a knowledgeable & fascinating tour guide

Enjoyed the visit hugely. Skip the line access was well worth it and the guide was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the site. Well worth it - highly recommended!

Hagia Sophia Admission Ticket with Fast Entry Service Reviewed by Anonymous, 14/04/2019

Great tour, skipper the line, learnt a lot

Great guide who was informative. It was a cheap price for a great tour and we skipped the line.

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