Hagia Sophia

At a Glance

Located: Sultanahmet. European Side.
Great for: Witnessing history from different emperors!
Visiting Hours:
Summer schedule (15 April/25 October) 09:00-19:00 – Winter Schedule (25 October/15 April) 09:00-17:00. Last Entrance is at 18:00 in summer, 16:00 in winter time! The museum is open on Mondays until 31/10/2017.
40 TL per person. You can get a Museum Card if your intention is to see some other museums in the area.

A church, a mosque and a museum in the history…

Quick Information on the Museum
  • There are different times of visiting for summer and winter schedules. Check At a Glance section.
  • The museum is open on Mondays until 31/10/2017.
  • The entrance is free for the kids under 12 years old.
  • Since this is a museum full of archaeological pieces, we would recommend you to get a guide or ask about Audio Guides in the box office!

Hagia Sophia is one of the historical wonders that you can still see today! It has a long history. It is the biggest church that was built by Roman Empire in İstanbul but it has been built three times in the same place. The first one’s name was Megale Ekklesia (Big Church) but then it was changed into Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). In Byzantine period, this church was the biggest cathedral in the city. In this church, the rulers were crowned so it was very important back then!

The first one was built in 360. It was burned down because of a riot which was caused by some disagreements between the Emperor’s wife and the Patriarch. You can see the mosaic portrait of the Patriarch on the ceiling in the museum.

The second church was built 415. It was demolished as a result of a public riot. In this riot, aristocrats, merchants and tradesmen collaborated against the Empire.

The third and the current church was constructed by the Emperor Justinianos in 532 and took 5 years to finish. To make the church bigger and better, the Emperor ordered everybody under his reign to bring the best pieces to be used while constructing the church. So, the marbles and the column in this church were taken from ancient cities. You will find pieces from North Africa, Marmara Island, Afyon, Baalbeek, Egypt…

After Ottoman’s conquer of İstanbul in 1453, Fatih Sultan Mehmet turned Hagia Sophia into a mosque by renovating the church. Later, the minarets were added with some pillars to support the structure. These minaret was designed by the great architect Mimar Sinan.

With Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s (the founder of Turkey Republic) orders, the mosque turned into a museum in 1935. Since then it has been serving as a museum.

Enjoy your visit!


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