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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 2,475 reviews

Hagia Sofia is like a mother of Istanbul

Surprisingly that the tours start sharp and no delay is foreseen- big respect to organization in one of the chaotic and super haptic city!!! Our guide Adim (Adam for international tourists) was very young, but knowledgeable and very enthusiastic young man. Deep knowledge with interesting, sometimes funny inputs made our tours unforgettable. We also had a chance to meet the local star - cat named Gli Definitely recommend to all who want to learn facts in 1h life tour and not only appreciate the beauty of the museum on several centuries and religions.

Speedy access inside and very informative and entertaining guide

This is definitely worth it as we saved so much time than queuing to buy a ticket in the heat. Once past the security check, there were around 4-5 different areas we stopped while the guide explained. He (Eugel) was very informative and also entertaining and we learnt alot on the history of the Hagia Sophia. Once the tour finishes (around 4 minutes), you're free to wander on your own. I would recommend heading upstairs for the great view you get.

An amazing experience, extremely well organised, worth every penny.

I don't know where to start! Everything was extremely well organised. Everyone was very polite, always on time and very pleasant to be with. The local guides were very knowledgeable (and I am an art historian), friendly, polite, genuine. I am a woman in her 60s, I travel solo and never felt lonely or scared. I met wonderful people who shared the same tours. I could not recommend this tour enough. An amazing cultural and human experience.

Enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, wonderful trip!

Fantastic! My guide was knowledgeable, enthusiastic and interesting to listen to. He took us to all the interesting spots and filled us in with the relevant history. Far better than seeing it on your own. We went to the Tokapi palace and the Hagia Sophia. He was also kind enough to see us onto the bus going back to the airport once it was over.

Beautiful day and a beautiful lunch with a small group

This tour was fantastic, I had such a nice time. I was thrilled to find there was only five of us on the tour and it was a great balance between structure and the freedom to explore the mosques. The lunch was delicious and we had plenty of time to explore the Grand Bazaar in the afternoon. Highly recommended.

Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Small Group Tour Reviewed by

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