Hagia Sophia

The most famous example of Byzantine architecture in the world, Hagia Sophia is located in Sultanahmet Square, across from Blue Mosque (about 5 minutes away on foot). It is one of the most important sights in Istanbul along with Topkapi Palace and certainly one of the top historic sights of Turkey.

The building named Hagia Sophia which means holy wisdom built as a church on the order of the Byzantian emperor Konstantios as a show of the greandeur of the empire. It was completed in 5 years. It is the oldest and fastest completed cathedral in the world.

After Ottomans captured Constantinople in 1453, Fatih Sultan Mehmet converted this church into a mosque. It was restorated three times and now, unlike the Blue Mosque it is not a mosque anymore. It is converted to a museum in 1935 at the order of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. This huge building perfectly reflects a combination of Byzantine and Ottoman cultures.

Hagia Sophia is most famous for its huge dome which stands at 182 feet high and is 102 feet wide. The building was an engineering marvel at the time. Thanks to its resilient structure, it has survived many earthquakes including a devastating one in 16th century. In addition, mosaics of Hagia Sophia depicting most important figures of Christian faith has great significance, along with Chora Museum. Huge amounts of gold were used in the construction of these mosaics. The museum also houses the longest Ottoman Caligraphy art.

You can see the holy relics exhibition, I.Mahmut library, gravestones and mosaics inside the museum. Outside the building, there are mausoleums, Fatih madrasah, an almhouse and minarets of the mosque. In additon, some other exhibitions for example Mevlana exhibition or photographs of Mimar Sinan's monument and conferences are presented on Hagia Sofia grounds.

This amazing building which was choosen a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1985 really worth to see!

Working hours: for spring and summer 9am-7pm except monday for fall and winter 9am-5pm except monday

Entrance fee is 20tl( ~10 euro) (for under age 12 it is free)

Hagia Sophia on Istanbul Map