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

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, 11/26/2018

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, 11/25/2018

A great tour to visit all the major attractions

Our guide Caner was very knowledgeable and tailored the tour to our needs and interests. It was fantastic to have a fast pass service to visit the monuments, no need to stay in the long lines to enter. This is worth every penny.

Istanbul: Private Tailor-Made Sightseeing Tour Reviewed by Peter, 10/31/2018

One of the best guided experiences I have ever had!

This guided walk was the highlight of my visit to Istanbul. The enthusiasm and flexibility of the guide were genuinely commendable. I could not have asked for a more committed guide, we set off at 0900 and finished at about 1800. We walked, rode in trams, the funicular (cable) cars, sat and drank tea among the old Turkish men, visited the Hagia Sophia Mosque, drank coffee at the Federal Galata coffee shop and walked through large bazaars and markets. Interestingly, one of the more memorable things we did was to explore several Han. These are two or three storey buildings, which house small workshops for artisans. If you are thinking about a visit to Istanbul, then I wholeheartedly recommend using this organisation. Also, despite the world political situation, I found Istanbul to be a safe city, where no more than the usual security issues of travelling seemed to exist.

It was a incredible experience thatweI will never forget. Wow!

I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart. We learned so much. He really listened to our interests. He took us to local reputable locations that we could trust. I'm a photographer so he gave us great locations for my photos. Two days of of total safe fun. He was kind and considerate of our needs. We not only learned about Istanbul, we have a new friend. Thank you so much for making our trip so memorable. We recommend this tour to everyone.

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