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

Overall rating
4.4 / 5
based on 1,709 reviews

Kadir is a patience and knowledgeable guide.

Kadir Kucekeren was absolutely fantastic. He is very knowledgeable and we saved lots of time enjoying Istanbul with him. He knows all the secrets to truly enjoy the city in a safe and efficient manner. He personalized our trip to fit our cultural interests - like Süleymaniye Mosque. He is very caring of his guests; he helped my mother up and down the old city steps. He is a true gentleman and I will always be grateful to him for his patience and understanding.

So glad we booked this Hagia Sophia tour

I was very unsure about booking this tour but now having seen the length of the queues thank goodness I did. We certainly gained fast entry and skipped the queue. In the short time our guide Haluk had available he gave us all the important information needed to start our tour of Hagia Sophia. Special thanks to him for opening our eyes to this Museum's History and making it such an interesting visit. Highly recommended tour, offering very good value for money.

Well structured tour with a very knowledgeable Guide.

The Company representative was at the meeting point as advised and the tour tour started promptly. Guide/tourist ratio was good. We got through the gate with relative ease and the pace of the tour was really measured. The Guide took time to explain every key aspect of the history of the place and threw in humour at appropriate times. The tour ended promptly and we were allowed to stay in there and do things at our own pace. Highly recommended.

Hagia Sophia: Skip-the-Line Ticket with Guided Tour Reviewed by

Selcuk was an extremely knowledgeable guide.

Selcuk took us to all of the sites that we had said that we wanted to visit. He was an expert in the historical facts of all of those sites and would definitely recommend him to others.

Istanbul: Private Tailor-Made Sightseeing Tour Reviewed by

Very good guide, very prepared and emphatic

The only negative thing was that at the beginning we were too many people and there was a bit of confusion, then we've been split in two groups and it was better.

Hagia Sophia: Skip-the-Line Ticket with Guided Tour Reviewed by

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