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Dating back to 4th century, the Hagia Irene (Aya İrini in Turkish), formerly church, now a museum and a center cultural activities and exhibitions, is situated inside the 1st court of the Topkapi Palace, in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Fatih district, along the Sultanahmet Sqaure. Hagia Irene also called as “St. Eirene” or “St.Irene’s” Church. It is one of the oldest Byzantium churches in Istanbul, was the 2nd largest church of the Eastern Roman Empire after Hagia Sophia.
History of the Hagia Irene Museum
“Hagia Irene” means “Holy Peace” in Greek. Hagia Irene was first built as a basilica with three naves, on the order of during the reign of Constantinos the Great (306–337), on top of a temple, out of wood. Hagia Irene consists of three sections that include; the naos, narthex and atrium, while the standing atrium is the only surviving sample from the Byzantine period.
After the Nica riot during the rule of Emperor Justinianus on 532, both Hagia Irene and Hagia Sophia burned down and all are reconstructed. And afterwards, it also had damages due to earthquake restored again in 740. The upper structure of Hagia Irene was completely renovated during the restorations of the Byzantium period and it gained its today’s appearance as a domed church with basilical plan.
After the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, Hagia Irene Church was not converted into a mosque like Hagia Sophia, it was used as an army warehouse.
Hagia Irene is now a museum today and also a venue for cultural activities and exhibitions. The high quality acoustic architecture makes Hagia Irene a great place for classical music events.
Hagia Irene was not open for visitors for many years but in 2018, it opened its door for visitors. Although it is situated inside the Topkapi Palace Museum, you are NOT able to enter Hagia Irene Museum with your Topkapi Palace ticket. You need to buy a seperate ticket for Hagia Irene.
Visiting Information and Ticket Price
Open every day from 09:00-18:45 (from 15 April to 31 October), 09:00-16:45 (from 01 November to 15 April)
Hours of Ticket Sale
Counters close 45 mins. before the museum closing time. Ticket counter is same with Topkapi Palace.
Not available for visiting in the first days of Ramadan and Sacrifice Festivals for half time.
How to Get There?
The Hagia Irene Museum is situated inside the Topkapi Palace (in the 1st courtyard), in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Fatih district. Getting to Hagia Irene is very easy and there are several trasnportation options.
- For the ones who stay in the Sultanahmet hotels, they can get to Hagia Irene Museum by walking.
- From Taksim, you may take the Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (T1 line) from the Kabatas stop or the other stops along the Galata Bridge. To get to tram stops; from the Taksim Square, you may take the Taksim-Kabatas funicular (F1 line), get to Kabatas tram stop and take the tram for Sultanahmet. And from the end of the Istiklal Avenue, on the Tunel Square, you may walk downwards or take the Tunel-Karakoy funicular (F2 line) to get to Karakoy tram stop and take the tram for Sultanahmet.
- From Kadikoy or Uskudar, on the Asian side, you may take the ferries operating to Kabatas, Karakoy or Eminonu and from there you may take the Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (T1 line) for Sultanahmet.
- Check the Istanbul Railway Network Map for the Tram stops and Istanbul Ferry Lines Map for ferries.
- Also note that the Sultanahmet Square and most of the connecting roads are closed for vehicle traffic except tram and tour busses. Getting to Sultanahmet by your private car is not recommended. You’ll need to leave your car far away.
Address, phone, web and map
Address: Topkapi Palace 1st courtyard, Sultanahmet Square, Fatih, Istanbul
Tel: +90 212 512 04 80
Fax: +90 212 526 98 40
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