Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish) can be considered as the best and the most visited sights in Istanbul together with the neighboring Topkapi Palace. Located in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Fatih district, along the Sultanahmet Sqaure, Hagia Sophia is a former church and mosque and declared as one of the world’s greatest architectural works and accepted as the 8th wonder of the world. Hagia Sophia is also one of the most visited landmarks and museums in Istanbul and in the world.
“Hagia Sophia” means “Holly Wisdom” in Greek. Hagia Sophia’s current building is the third construction and has different architectural style due to the rulers of the city. Hagia Sophia was first constructed in 325 for the great wish and will of the Emperor Constantine to move the capital of the Roman Empire to Istanbul. After a big earthquake in 360, the construction restored by the Emperor Constantine and called as “the Big Church (Megale Ekklesia)”.
Until the period of Byzantium Emperor Justinianos (527-565), the building had many damages due to rebellions and big fires and so restored again and again. And finally it is reconstructed in 5 years with the administration of the famous architects Anthemios (Tralles) and Isidoros (Miletus) under the order of the Emperor Justinianos.
Hagia Sophia has been the biggest church and constructed by the East Roman Empire and was used as a church for 916 years, as well as the place in which the emperors were crowned, until the Ottoman Empire’s conquest of Istanbul in 1453, by Fatih Sultan Mehmed. And after, Fatih Sultan Mehmed was converted the church into a mosque. Hagia Sophia than was used as a mosque for 482 years. Finally in 1935, with the order of Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, and the decision of the Council of Ministers, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum.
What You will See
On the exterior of Hagia Sophia, you may see Sultan Tombs, Elementary School, Fountain, Timing Room, Public Fountains, Minarets, Buttresses, Treasury Building (Skevophylakion) and Almshouse. And On the interior of Hagia Sophia, you may see the impressive Dome, Mosaics, Calligraphic Panes, Tiles, Altar, Minbar, Sultan’s Loge, Muezzin’s Loge, Omphalion, The Library of Sultan Mahmud I, Private Sections (“Maksure”), Marble Cubes, Wishing Column, Gravestone of Commandant Enrico Dandolo, Viking scripture and
Doors of Hagia Sophia.
You may explore the Hagia Sophia Museum via daily tours made by the local travel agents with professional guides. It is a very good option if you don’t want to go through the hassle of making all the arrangements including the tickets, waiting at the queue and 2-ways transportation by your own and feel like you may have troubles with them.
We recommend the two world brands GetYourGuide or Viator tours, made by the best reputed and registered tour agents in Istanbul and offer comfortable, safe and the cheapest tours with 2-ways transportation from your hotel or meeting point, professional guides, insurance and easy cancellation. You may find the top selling guided Hagia Sophia Museum tours below.
Turkish children and teenagers (18 years old or younger) get free admission as do foreign children(8 years old or younger),
Open every day from 09:00-19:00 (from 15 April to 31 October), 09:00-17:00 (from 01 November to 15 April)
Ticket counters close one hour before the museum closing time
Not available for visiting in the first days of Ramadan and Sacrifice Festivals for half time.
How to Get There?
Getting to Hagia Sophia is very easy and there are several transportation options.
- For the ones who stay in the Sultanahmet hotels, they can get to Hagia Sophia 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 Street, 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.
You may see the public bus routes and timetables as well as make a route/station search from the Istanbul Municipality Public Busses website. Also 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 buses. Getting to Sultanahmet by your private car is not recommended. You’ll need to leave your car far away.
Address: Sultanahmet Square, Fatih, Istanbul
Tel: +90 212 522 17 50 , +90 212 522 09 89
Fax: +90 212 512 54 74