Hagia Sophia: Tours & Tickets
5 historical facts about the Hagia Sophia
This magnificent Byzantine church turned Ottoman mosque was made a museum in 1935 by Kemal Ataturk, the father of the Turkish Republic. It's one of Istanbul's proudest icons, so here are five things that shaped this showcase of Christian and Islamic Empires.
1. As a site of worship it predates history
The grand church was converted to a mosque after the Ottoman conquest in 1453. However, the site has also been home to two previous churches and a Pagan temple!
2. It was built to eclipse the Temple of Solomon
Justinian I strained the breadth of his Empire to have the Hagia Sophia built in 537. On its completion he's said to have proudly boasted, "Oh Solomon, I have surpassed thee!"
3. Many of its treasures are in Venice
Not making it to Jerusalem, the Venetian-led Fourth Crusaders instead took Constantinople. Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice still houses many of the spoils!
4. It's taken one hell of a beating!
As well as being sacked in the Fourth Crusade, the Hagia Sophia's heavy dome has collapsed several times due to earthquakes. It wasn't completely stabilized until 1859!
5. The Ottomans changed its appearance drastically
The Hagia Sophia became a mosque in 1453, when the Ottomans seized Constantinople. Its many alterations included the erection of minarets and the purging of Christian iconography.
Planning Your Visit
What are the opening times?
You can visit the Hagia Sophia between the hours of 9:00AM and 7:00PM from April 15th to September 31st, and between 9:00AM and 5:00PM from October 1st to April 14th. It is closed in the early days of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha. Book tickets in advance to avoid the queues!
How to get there?
The Hagia Sophia is just a short walk from the Sultanahment metro and tram stops. Close to many of Istanbul's historic attractions, it's also covered on most city walking tours!
Good to know
- When should I visit?
- 9:00AM to 5:00PM in the winter, 9:00AM to 7:00PM in the summer. Check holiday schedules to avoid closures.
- Is it expensive?
- The ticket price is 30 TRY, which is roughly $11.
- Will I need a guide?
- It will definitely help. Might be worth it to check out our best-selling tours.
- How to get there
- Take the metro or tram to the Sultanahment stop.
- Additional information
- Book tickets in advance to avoid the queues!
What people are saying about Hagia Sophia
Outstanding Experience, strongly suggested! Our guide "Matt" was very friendly and fond of all the details regarding the magnificent architectural and historical marvels of Istanbul. He picked me and my partner from the "Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul" on a sunny 25 degrees October morning at 08:30am in the lobby. Due to COVID19 the group was very small, 3 people. The absence of tourists had a very positive impact on our daily schedule: We had the 15th century Topkapi Palace with its Ottoman treasures all for ourselves gently walking in the sun across the magnificent park with stunning panoramas of the Bosphorus. We then visited the secular 537AD worldwide known Hagia Sophia, the Sultan Ahmet Türbesi graves, the colourful Hand-painted blue tiles of the 15th century Blue Mosque and The Hippodrome of Constantinople with its columns. Lunch at a cozy local restaurant and then shopping at Bazar. All at a walking pace with no rush and time to feel the holiness and history of these sites.
The tour was amazing! Our guide Oguz Ates was very educated, fluently speaking English, explained the history and all details in very interesting way! Thanks a lot! We were lucky to be only 2 persons in group, maybe because of low tourist winter season. The tour was very nice and interesting!! Don’t shy to buy the tour via GetYourGuide, everything is well organized! Even if you are lost and can’t find the meeting point, you can call the company and they help with everything!
Great tour, very knowledgeable guide. In 7 hours we learned so much about Tuerkey it’s glorious past, challenging present and promising future. Tired but happy we relax now remembering the unforgettable moments our guide created for us.
Mehmet was an amazing guide, he took to all of the top tourists area. He was very knowledgeable about the history of Turkey. He even took me pictures, and was very friendly.
Discovering these monuments with the guide was much more interesting rather than doing it by one's self. A lots to learn. We really appreciate