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

Knowledgeable tour guide and smooth operation

My brother and I went in early February and the line was not too long. However, it felt great to skip the whole line and get into Hagia Sofia directly. If you walk in by yourself, you will simply think that it looks nice. However, with the tour guide's explanation, you can actually learn about the long history of Istanbul and it is truly fascinating. I highly recommend others to do this tour instead of just visiting the place since you get to learn so much. Also, the whole process was very smooth and the tour guide was very friendly!

Hagia Sophia: Skip-the-Line Ticket with Guided Tour Reviewed by a GetYourGuide customer, 11/02/2019

Outstanding experience with the best historian!

Adil, our historian/guide’s knowledge is outanding. He created a wondrous and magical experience with his expertise and guidance. Definitely the best guide we have ever used! And we travel a lot! Wish all guides could be like Adil. Thank you

Hagia Sophia Tour with a Historian Reviewed by Lynn, 14/01/2019

Very nice, knowledgeable and professional.

Our guide was very nice, knowledgeable and professional. The tour was very enjoyable.

Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Small Group Tour Reviewed by Carl W, 06/01/2019

Excellent option for a layover in Istanbul

Guide with good knowledge. On time, looking for what we must visit and as well, time permitting, what could be interested for us.

Istanbul Airport: Layover Tour Options Reviewed by Ramiro, 26/11/2018

Excellent, engaging and educational tour

Latife was a superb guide! Friendly, helpful and incredibly knowledgeable of Turkish history. Not only did she give us lots of information on all the beautiful sites we visited but she also told us about modern Turkey giving us a great picture of how Turkey has grown over the past 1600 years or so. Highly recommend this tour. It was also really nice having such a small group (me, my wife and Latife!).

Istanbul: Full-Day Private Old City Tour with Lunch Reviewed by Christopher, 25/11/2018

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