Hagia Sophia
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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

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!

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

interesting walk with good info and skip the line to Hagia Sophia!

It was my first time in Istanbul so this was ideal! I found the guide, he showed me around and took me to buy a metro card! He gave me water and explained the story of the old city. Then we walked in the square, saw the old hippodrome and finally he took me through the waiting line and gave me the ticket to enter directly to the magnificent Hagia Sophia! It was totally worth it!

Hagia Sophia Admission Ticket and Short Welcome Walk Reviewed by a GetYourGuide Customer, 05/31/2018

Emre is a great and professional guide. Highly recommend his tour.

We joined this tour on 7th April. It was a great and very enjoyable experience with our guide Emre. He walked through the spots and streets with us and shared the history of the city. Nice lunch too. Thanks Emre.

Full Day Istanbul Guided Tour with Lunch Reviewed by Rebecca, 04/11/2018

Emre was brilliant, very informed and adjusts according to you.

Highky recommended. Emre adjusts according to the client, he surprised me in the way he could give me the most important information without boring me to death and leave me to do the exploration part myself.

Full Day Istanbul Guided Tour with Lunch Reviewed by Juan, 04/03/2018

A great way to see the top tourist spots and find out key information

It was a great way to see the more popular tourist sights with a well informed guide. It was a small group of like minded people which made it that much more enjoyable. The guide was flexible and accomodating to the groups needs.

A great day out, entertaining and enlightening!

Volkan was a great guide, very knowledgeable, passionate about the history of Turkey and Istanbul. We enjoyed talking to him about not just the history but the current situations and politics of the day. He was attentive but knew when to give us some time and was great at taking photos! He also added some local insights for us as we specifically asked for a few recommendations and they turned out great.

Istanbul: Private Tailor-Made Sightseeing Tour Reviewed by Antony, 03/20/2018

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