Hagia Sophia (Turkish: Ayasofya; Koinē Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, romanized: Hagía Sophía; Latin: Sancta Sophia, lit. 'Holy Wisdom',(Turkish: Ayasofya-i) and formerly as the Church of Holy Wisdom (Greek: Ναός της Αγίας του Θεού Σοφίας, romanized: Naós tis Ayías tou Theoú Sofías), is a Late Antique place of worship in Istanbul, designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. Built in 537 as the patriarchal cathedral of the imperial capital of Constantinople, it was the largest Christian church of the eastern Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) and the Eastern Orthodox Church, except during the Latin Empire from 1204 to 1261, when it temporarily became a Roman Catholic cathedral. In 1453, after the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, it was converted into a mosque. In 1935, the Republic of Turkey established it as a museum. In 2020, it was reconverted into a mosque.
Built by the eastern Roman emperor Justinian I as the Christian cathedral of Constantinople for the state church of the Roman Empire between 532 and 537, the church was then the world's largest interior space and among the first to employ a fully pendentive dome. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture". The present Justinianic building was the third church of the same name to occupy the site, as the prior one had been destroyed in the Nika riots. As the episcopal see of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, it remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. Beginning with subsequent Byzantine architecture, Hagia Sophia became the paradigmatic Orthodox church form, and its architectural style was emulated by Ottoman mosques a thousand years later. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as an architectural and cultural icon of Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox civilization.
|Tuesday||9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Wednesday||9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Thursday||9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Friday||9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Saturday||9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
|Sunday||9:00 AM – 5:00 PM|
Faisal Chaudhry | Feb 17, 2018
A beautiful, one of a kind monument - a must-see in Istanbul. Recommend going early in the morning when they open to avoid the crowds. It seems like they do some renovations during the off season, but doesn't detract too much from the experience. The audio guide is a little pricey, but definitely worth it as there aren't any posted descriptions. Be sure to look out the windows on the second floor, some great views of the Blue Mosque!
Aiman Saeed | Jan 25, 2018
What a beauty. An artistic site. Was amazed to see the grand architecture. A piece of art, extremely beautiful and majestic. Tourists from all over the world were there to witness the beautiful site. It was an experience of its own. The team on duty to assist the tourists were very helpful. I would want to go to Istanbul again and revisit this place for sure. Also they issue a tourist card on which you can visit this place and multiple other museums and alike historical sites on that card.
Abed El Rahman HASSOUN | Jan 22, 2018
Fineness, diversity and beauty! You feel so small and insignificant when you enter this unique place, particularly because of its high ceiling! As Haghia Sophia used to be a cathedral then a mosque, you will see there few items, paintings and decorations of both Christian and Islamic backgrounds, which gives this place a unique ambiance for all visitors. You'll need to go up on the second level to better see the main yard of the place and to better appreciate its beauty. The way the light enters from its windows adds magic and spirituality to this place!
Erik Nykl | Feb 23, 2018
One of the most beautiful structure on the world almost 1500 years old is on everyone's top list "to see" in ISTANBUL. It's worth it to know basic about history of this place before you visit it !!! Then you can enjoy it to maximum. To avoid long queue get there before 9am or be ready to pay about 100TL extra to local guide to let you skip the long line. (As we did)
emulum qurkool | Nov 13, 2017
Hagia Sophia was Turkey's most visited tourist attraction. Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Its interior is decorated with mosaics and marble pillars and coverings of great artistic value. The greatest cathedral ever built up to that time, and it was to remain the largest cathedral for 1,000 years up until the completion of the cathedral in Seville in Spain.Wonder of the world.The church was richly decorated with mosaics throughout the centuries. They either depicted the Virgin Mother, Jesus, saints, or emperors and empresses. Other parts were decorated in a purely decorative style with geometric patterns.Because of its long history as both a church and a mosque, a particular challenge arises in the restoration process. A must see.
Sadhi D. | Apr 1, 2018
I bought the Museum Pass in particular because it included Fast track entry to this. Got there at 9.20. Asked the guards for the fast track entrance and they pointed to the long line and said everyone already has tickets. Ended up waiting 50minutes to get in because so many people (including entire tour groups) were jumping the line and the security did nothing to stop them! Once you get inside the premises on the line with people with tickets and passes, they put half the people who just bought tickets into the same security check as you! So the other half of the people who just bought the tickets actually got in faster than the rest of us! Once you get in, the place is quite beautiful. Although crowded, it does have a special vibe to it. Also, there is a video playing at the entrance of the building which gives a long explanation. Audio guide was 30TL but I didn’t get one. Was it worth the wait? Not for me. Maybe if I had jumped the queues too, I would have been in a better frame of mind. Part of the dome was also under renovation, blocking part of the view.
Waqas Khan | Apr 5, 2018
This was originally a Church which was turned into a Mosque & is know a museum. You will find many amazing pieces of art & history. The entry fee is 40 TL & is absolutely worth it. The security inside are of no help & rude so don’t expect anything from them.
Pukhraj Sharma | Apr 5, 2018
A blend of History with magnificence, this place is a marvel of human imagination with the Divine. I was truly amazed to see the architecture from outside. And then taken aback by the beauty inside. Although it was cold and rainy in Istanbul, this place was a warm seclude with it's shine and Ray's of history emanating from everywhere. This was one of the main reasons I we're attracted to visit Turkey, and it was as it was expected. We used the Big Bus tour services to reach here and then took different route bus to roam the rest of the city.
Brittney Chui | Apr 7, 2018
Really beautiful from the outside and outstanding on the inside. Currently undergoing restoration so there is a lot of scaffolding on the inside but still a marvel to see. The architecture, mosaics and art are all incredible. Arrive early to avoid the really long cues. Entrance is 40tl. There are some guides offering fast track entry and a private guided tour. The line moved quite quick and once inside it did not feel over crowded.
Andrew Eastwood | Mar 20, 2018
Really gorgeous place. Large doors, high ceilings make you feel so small in comparison to it. Everything there is nicely organized and labeled so you can listen about almost each piece of this museum. And of course it impresses of how much effort was done to construct it. Amazing!
William Blackley | May 3, 2018
Very much worth a visit. Officially a museum rather than a mosque, it has its original symbols of Christianity from its first 916 years, as well those of Islam from its subsequent 478 years' history until 1931. Since 1935 it's been a secular museum, so no need to remove shoes or wear a headscarf. The dome itself is magnificent but don't miss the floor of marble slabs, many of which were cut (using stings of silk) from one large rock and laid side by side forming symmetrical patterns. I recommend paying the extra for a guide. Lots of information and you skip the queue.
Azim Hulaimi | Apr 22, 2018
A must visit for first timers in Istanbul. I was in awe all the way from the outside to the inside of the building. Rich with textures and histories and you will just feel wow as you walk slowly and see the magnificent structure and the marble tiles everywhere. As a Muslim, it’s very important to learn the history behind it so that we can learn and appreciate about all religions. It might take a while to queue, so try to be early if you want to visit this place. It’s about 40 LT per person. There might be other people harassing you as you queue though, telling you that they can provide guided tour and you can cut the queue but that’s entirely up to you. They looked a bit shady to me and I just ignore them. But bottom line, have to visit this place at least once in your life. Try to go on weekdays. Weekends is a killer but if you have no other choice, then come by really super early. You won’t regret it. :)
Michael Oon | May 1, 2018
There was a long queue to enter this world-famous heritage site. Once I got in, I was disappointed with the amount of scaffolding inside the famous hall. Mind you, it was built in 500AD and the old lady needs maintenance. It was simply breath taking. The size of the hall and the beauty = the ornate images on the wall the glass panes. Words cannot simply describe. You have to visit this great monument, preferably after the renovation. Who knows when it will be completed?
Sia Gholami | Apr 19, 2018
A must see when in Istanbul. So must history and such an interesting building, mixing Christian and Islamic art under the same dome. Take your time and really take in the extraordinary marble floors and doorways. The queue to get in can take a while, but I recommend just waiting rather than paying extra for a "tour guide". You can easily see the whole thing at your own pace.
Keshav Kumar | May 9, 2018
An old Orthodox Cathedral then a Roman Catholic Church then a mosque and now a museum phew!! This place has seen many changes. The architecture is superb and you can see a combination of Islamic and Byzantine architecture. The massive dome and the antiques with the murals of Jesus and huge Islamic signs will definitely make you jaw drop.
Vincent Oliver | May 29, 2018
An impressive building, now a museum after its origins as a church, then converted to a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul. There is a lot to know and see so rent (Tl 30) an audio-guide or hire an official guide ( name tag IDs). There is a film on the mosque and its history and architecture on the left of the entrance that is worth watching before you walk around. There is an upstairs level which you must visit to see the remains of the amazing Christian mosaics. ( no flash photos). The interior is undergoing extensive, much needed, restoration so a lot of scaffolding obstructs some sections, but does not detract from the interest.
Jesse Brands | Jun 16, 2018
What can be said about this phenomenal building of which the likes haven't rarely ever been seen in the world. Wade yourself into history, exploring a building built in the 5th century (yes, really) in only a couple of years. Standing in the sanctum feels like you're at the bottom of a cavern, a hollow mountain. Even for those who are not religious like this reviewer, you cannot help but be overcome with a sense of spirituality and mysticism that his place permeates. If there's one thing you are going to see in Istanbul, it has to be the Hagia Sophia. You cannot have missed the phenomenal mosaics, the incredible marble rivulets, the beautiful architecture and wall paintings. You will never forget this place, it is breathtaking.
Matt G | May 31, 2018
One of the best things I've seen natural or man made. Unbelievable that they could build this so long ago. The artwork and gold inlay is amazing. The frescoes too. The sheer size of the place is incredible. If you get to see nothing else in Istanbul visit this place.
Stayapriya Maurya | Jul 6, 2018
Hagia Sophia is a beautiful piece of art and It has an amazing structure with amazing interior paintings with gold. There is a long queue always and you must have a head cover or umbrella for sun. Nice place, very much crowded but well managed. People love to spend time here and I found the place very neat and clean. Located in a prime spot in old Istanbul city. Has many tourist attractions in the vicinity like Blue Mosque and Cistern Basilica, nearby distance. Entry charge is 40 Lira. One can visit the upper floors of the museum also. It's a unique experience in whole life to witness this. One can invest in the audio guide which gave short informative summaries. The sheer size, design and colour plus the age of what you are seeing is awesome.
Ahmad Hassan | Jul 6, 2018
Indeed, one of the city's best landmarks. A place full of history and events. As a museum, each square contains a great past; how it has been changed from a church into a mosque by the Muslims. And how people created magnificent buildings without any of our modern technology and lived in there! The ticket costs 40TL per person. Great site for history seekers!
Carola Bartz | Jul 6, 2018
Not to be missed! If you have the museum card pass you can skip the line and don't have to wait. The Hagia Sophia is a treasure with gorgeous mosaics. You can easily spend two hours here just walking around and looking at all the beauty here. There are no stairs to the second storey gallery but an old ramp, so it's suitable for wheelchairs as well.
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