Hagia Sophia Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)

Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish) can be considered as the best and the most visited sights in Istanbul together with the neighboring Topkapi Palace. 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 Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)

Hagia Sophia Facts

Istanbul’s, as well as the World’s one of most visited sights. So what lies behind?

  • The name “Hagia Sophia” means “Holly Wisdom” in Greek.
  • First built in 325 AD, collapsed 2 times and rebuilt 3 times.
  • Built in the year 532 AD, as the world’s largest place of worship.
  • Converted to a mosque after Ottoman Empire’s conquest of Istanbul in 1453.
  • Converted to a museum in 1935.
  • Declared as one of the world’s greatest architectural works.
  • Accepted as the 8th wonder of the world.

History of Hagia Sophia

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 Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)


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 to See at Hagia Sophia

on the Exterior

You’ll see;

  • Sultan Tombs,
  • Elementary School,
  • Fountain,
  • Timing Room,
  • Public Fountains,
  • Minarets,
  • Buttresses,
  • Treasury Building (Skevophylakion),
  • Almshouse.

Hagia Sophia Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)

on the Interior

It’s like stepping into the holy world of Christianity and Islam, merged on the shell-like apse and under an impressive dome, in a mysterious and mystical ambiance, and a wide range of architectural and art works coming from thousands of years.

Hagia Sophia Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)

Such as the golden Christian mosaics and colorful frescoes from the Byzantine era. Hagia Sophia’s mosaics depict the Christian scenes.


Hagia Sophia Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)

The golden Christian mosaics we mention above are probably from the 10th century, and other famous one depicts Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

You’ll see and admire;

  • An 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,
  • Doors of Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia Video Tour

Visiting Hours & Admissions

Opening Hours

Open every day from 09:00-19:00 (from 15 April to 31 October), 09:00-17:00 (from 01 November to 15 April)

Hours of Ticket Sale

Ticket counters close one hour before the museum closing time.

Special Days

Not available for visiting in the first days of Ramadan and Sacrifice Festivals for half time. See Turkey’s public holidays

Ticket Price

* 72 TL (about €11,25) at ticket window on location

* Guided tour regular price is about €18

Visiting Hagia Sophia Tips

Visiting Hagia Sophia without buying tickets before and try to buy at the ticket window on location means waiting in the long lines.

You can wait about 2 hours that is crowd dependent to get an entry ticket, so getting there at 09:00 am could mean a 11:00 am entrance.

So, we highly recommend you buy your Hagia Sophia tickets online.

Some insider advice

* Buy your tickets well in advance to avoid the time slots that can tend to sell out even in low season.

* Buying guided tours is recommended because Hagia Sophia has a history coming from thousands of years, better to know the each detail and story, and have a detailed look at the architecture, mosaics, construction, the imperial dome, upper galleries and the decoration from the past and today.

* Book your tickets for 09:00, 15:00 or 16:00, to avoid crowds.

* Plan at least 60 minutes for the visit. 90 minutes much better.

* Plan your day together with Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern as they are within walking distance from Hagia Sophia.

* Visit during the daylight, better in the morning, as natural light inside will make you admire the interior much better.

* Keep an eye out for unofficial guides (guides should have official badge on).

* Don’t pay attention, look in the eyes, and talk with beggars, and people coming beside and ask for helping with guidance around or for money.

* Avoid weekends if possible, it can be more crowded with the locals’ visits.

* Try the Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi for lunch (about 150 mt. from Hagia Sophia), a popular and historical restaurant famous for its traditional meatball dish and dessert made of semolina. See location map.

* Check the weather forecast and plan your day for the sunniest one if possible.

Where to Buy Hagia Sophia Tickets

You can buy them at ticket windows but it will cost you about at least 1 to 2 hours waiting in the line. And this will effect your future sightseeing calendar.

We recommend you buy your tickets online. This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to get tickets to Hagia Sophia.

We put the links to the official buying channels below. Just pick your date and time and skip the lines.

Hagia Sophia Ticket Options and Prices

There are several options:

  • Buy directly at the ticket window on location.
  • Buy Hagia Sophia only guided tours.
  • Buy Hagia Sophia included combo tickets.
  • Buy one of Hagia Sophia included Istanbul discount passes.

We recommend you to book the Hagia Sophia tickets for 09:00, 15:00 and 16:00, as it will be less crowded and you can make the most of the Hagia Sophia’s explore even better.

General Admission Tickets

Hagia Sophia entrance fee on your own is 72 TL (about €11,25). This is the ticket window on location option.

The general admission tickets will let you enter the museum and explore on your own. You should know that there is very little explanation of the architecture by signs, plates, etc.

If you just want to have quick look inside without need of understand the history behind, and waiting in the queue is not a problem, this is the ticket for you.

The skip the line access tickets with a guide (see below) seems to be about €6,75 expensive.

You should consider on your own would it worth to pay that amount to save yourself from 1 to 2 hours waiting in the line, and have a guide. We guess it would!

Guided Tours

This is the best option we recommend especially for first time visitors. And we always recommend opting for an extended English guided tour offered exclusively by several historian guides of Istanbul.

When you book  you’ll get an email confirmation with meeting details (in front of the Hagia Sophia) and there your name being checked from the official guide’s list with your confirmation number.

Hagia Sophia Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)

See below the recommended Hagia Sophia guided tours with fast track entry.

Hagia Sophia Fast Track Entry with Historian Guide

This is offered by Istanbul Welcome Card and we highly recommend. You’ll enjoy Hagia Sophia with one of the few historian guides available in Istanbul, who will tell you about each detail and story about the museum, and you’ll have a detailed look at the architecture, mosaics, construction, the imperial dome, upper galleries and the decoration from the past and today that tell the story of Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)Highlights:

  • Benefit from fast track entry
  • Skip the ticket lines and save 2 hours
  • Learn 60 minutes from a historian guide
  • Get the real sense of the Hagia Sophia
  • See all mosaics, galleries and details inside
  • Get to know the story of the buildings history
  • English speaking guide and entrance fee included
  • Stay inside as long as you want

Ticket price: €25

Notice: Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount. Just click the red button below and make sure you see the discounted price on the official page.

Hagia Sophia Meeting Hours: daily at 10:00, except Mondays and Tuesdays

Rebooking & Cancellation Policy: You have missed your meeting time? No problem, you can come to our next meeting time or day. You want to cancel? No problem, you can cancel your reservation anytime and get your refund.

Hagia Sophia Tour with Fast Track Entry & Historian Guide


Hagia Sophia VIP Tickets with Audio App

This is offered by Istanbul Welcome Card and we highly recommend.

Hagia Sophia Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)The ticket includes:

  • Skip the line access to Hagia Sophia
  • Entrance fee and Hagia Sophia plan
  • Guiding service by official Hagia Sophia licensed guide
  • Audio App in 10 languages
  • Stay inside as long as you want

Ticket price: €15

Notice: Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount. Just click the red button below and make sure you see the discounted price on the official page.

How it Works:

  • You’ll will receive a confirmation with the meeting point
  • You’ll just show the confirmation to your Istanbul Welcome Card guide
  • Your name will be for 3 days on the list.
  • You can come to the meeting point at any time below.

Hagia Sophia Meeting Hours: daily at 09:00, 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00

Rebooking & Cancellation Policy: You have missed your meeting time? No problem, you can come to our next meeting time or day. You want to cancel? No problem, you can cancel your reservation anytime and get your refund.

Hagia Sophia VIP Tickets & Audio App


Alternative Channels to Book

Some tourists prefer to book online ticket via World’s popular excursion sale companies Get Your Guide (GYG) or Viator. Below we put the Hagia Sophia Tours provided by GYG and Viator.

This can be a good option for the ones staying far away from the attractions, as these tours offer FREE Hotel Pick-Up and Drop-Off service. And you can also cancel have a full refund 24 hours before the activity starts. We recommend you to check out the travelers’ comments with prices before you book from GYG or Vaitor.


Combo Tickets

This is also a great option we recommend especially for both first time visitors and budget travelers.

Majority of the tourists visit Hagia Sophia on the same day with Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern due to their proximity.

Combo tickets become a good choice if want to get them all with same ticket. You can pick one of the combo tickets.

VIP Combo Tour Ticket: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern

This is offered by Istanbul Welcome Card and we highly recommend.

Hagia Sophia Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)The ticket includes:

  • Fast track entry to all 3 museums with certified guide
  • Save 15% and skip the ticket lines
  • Guiding service by official guide
  • Free Hagia Sophia Audio App in 10 languages

Ticket price: €35

Notice: Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount. Just click the red button below and make sure you see the discounted price on the official page.

How it Works:

  • You’ll will receive a confirmation with the meeting points of all 3 museums
    and the redeem code for the Hagia Sophia Audio App
  • You’ll just show the confirmation to your Istanbul Welcome Card guide
  • Your name will be for 3 days on the list.
  • You can come to the meeting points and visit all 3 museums at any time below.
  • You can visit all 3 museums in 1 day or at different days.

Hagia Sophia Meeting Hours: daily at 09:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00

Topkapi Palace Meeting Hours: daily except Tuesdays at 09:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30 and 16:30

Basilica Cistern Meeting Hours: daily at 09:30, 11:30, 13:30 and 15:30

Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern VIP Combo Ticket


Tourist Passes

Istanbul has two major tourist discount passes. You can read more with our tips and comparisons on our Istanbul Welcome Card and Istanbul Tourist Pass pages.

Hagia Sophia is included at these passes below.


Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe

Hagia Sophia Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)This is a travel discount card that is delivered to your hotel for FREE upon your purchase online, and will be ready to use at your arrival. You can also receive it from its stand in both two Istanbul Airports.

Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe comes with Pass for 12 Museums, 3 Tours by Historian Guide, 20 Rides with IstanbulKart (Public Transport), Bosphorus Cruise, Digital Guide Book and Map.

Notice: Our website visitors will get 5% extra discount. Just click the red button below and make sure you see the discounted price on the official page.

Buy Your Istanbul Welcome Card Deluxe

Tip: This discount card also gets you 20% for all the other attractions and services on their shop like guided museum tours, dinner cruise, theme parks, airport transfer, unlimited mobile internet, etc., and is a jewel to tourists with a lot to see.

Istanbul Tourist Pass

Hagia Sophia Museum (No Frills 2020 Guide with Tickets & Insider Advice)This is a digital travel discount pass that is delivered to your phone upon your purchase online, and will be ready to use at your arrival. It includes 30+ attractions and services including skip the line access and guided museum tours, dinner cruise, hop-on & hop-off Bus, airport transfer, unlimited mobile internet, etc.

Buy Your Istanbul Tourist Pass


How to Get to Hagia Sophia?

Location

The Hagia Sophia Museum is situated in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Fatih district, along the Sultanahmet Sqaure, just across the famous Blue Mosque. See the location map.

Transportation

The most practical way to get to Sultanahmet is via Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (T1 line).

  • The closest tram stop is Sultanahmet.
  • Sultanahmet Square and most of the connecting roads are closed for vehicle traffic except tram and tour buses.
  • From Taksim, take the funicular to Kabatas (from taksim Square) or funicular to Karakoy (from Tunel square) and than take the tram.
  • If you stay at the Sultanahmet hotels, than you easily walk to the museum.

Check our Sultanahmet page to see how to get to Sultanahmet in details.

Contact Details

Address: Sultanahmet Square, Fatih, Istanbul
Tel: +90 212 522 17 50 , +90 212 522 09 89
Fax: +90 212 512 54 74
Web: ayasofyamuzesi.gov.tr


Go Harass Us in the Comments Below

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