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

A fantastic site and a knowledgeable & fascinating tour guide

Enjoyed the visit hugely. Skip the line access was well worth it and the guide was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the site. Well worth it - highly recommended!

Hagia Sophia Admission Ticket with Fast Entry Service Reviewed by a GetYourGuide customer, 04/14/2019

Great tour, skipper the line, learnt a lot

Great guide who was informative. It was a cheap price for a great tour and we skipped the line.

A perfect introduction to an amazing city, Istanbul

This was my first time in Istanbul, so having two days with a guide was essential for understanding this amazing city and its history. On my own I could not have found my way to so many places, or learned so much. Saban Sezer was an excellent guide; I always have questions to ask that many visitors would not, as I am interested in Islamic architecture and as I live in Egypt and am interested in how in the past Turkish traditions have transferred to Egypt, Saban was patient with my questions and with me wanting to spend longer in some places that interested me. He gave information even about places you don't have time to visit in your first two days, places we just passed on the cruise, and that makes me want to return for more exploring of Istanbul.

Skipped a long line and had a great tour

Tour was a lot of fun, the history and site are phenomenal. Line was quite long so we were very happy to skip it. The team on the ground were easily visible and guided us through the security smoothly and gave us a fantastic introduction. Even though we booked on quite short notice all went perfectly smooth.

Hagia Sophia Admission Ticket with Fast Entry Service Reviewed by Christian, 04/10/2019

Tour hit all the highlights I wanted to see.

I did the one day tour. I would highly recommend it if you have a short time in Istanbul. My guide tailored the tour to include something extra that was recommended to me by me cutting short my Grand Bazaar visit. Tip - wear your walking shoes.

Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour Reviewed by Debra, 03/22/2019

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