Hagia Sophia - Once A Church, Later A Mosque, And Now A Museum

Haghia Sophia (Aya Sofya), The Church of Holy Wisdom
Turkey Haghia Sophia (Aya Sofya), The Church of Holy Wisdom in Sultanahmet |Photo Credit: Jeremy Horner/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hagia Sophia is a great architectural beauty and an important monument both for Byzantine and for Ottoman Empires. Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum at the Turkish Republic, it has always been the precious of its time.

The mystical city Istanbul hosted many civilizations since centuries, of which Byzantium and Ottoman Empires were both the most famous ones. The city today carries the characteristics of these two different cultures and surely Hagia Sophia is a perfect synthesis where one can observe both Ottoman and Byzantium effects under one great dome.

Hagia Sophia was choosen a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1985.

Rebuilt by the orders of Emperor Justinian in 537, for 900 years Hagia Sophia had been the center of Orthodox Christianity until 1453 when the city was concurred by Ottomans. 500 years following the conquest of Muslims, it became a jewel for the Muslim world and as the grand mosque of the sultans.

In 1935, Hagia Sophia had been converted into a museum of Turkish Republic by the orders of Ataturk, and became one of the most significant monuments not only in Turkey but on earth with its architecture and its historical richness.

Hagia Sophia Location

Hagia Sophia is located in Istanbul Turkey. It is at the European part of the city in Sultanahmet area (old town), nearby Topkapi palace in Istanbul. It is within walking distance from the hotels in Sultanahmet. The distance from Istanbul International Airport is 20km. The place is open to visit every day, except Mondays.

Between 15th April and 1st October it is open from 9am to 7pm with the last entry being at 6pm.

Between 1st October and 15th April it is open from 9am to 5pm with the last entry being at 4pm.
It is closed on the first days of Ramadan and Eid Ul Adha, which is known as feast of sacrifice, Festivals for half day.

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

Hagia Sophia In Istanbul And One of The World's Heritage Site

Hagia Sophia Entrance fee is 25 TL about 14 US Dollars or 10 Euro.

You may reach Hagia Sophia using Metro or Light Tram lines. Closest tram station is "Sultanahmet station". When you get off at this station, Hagia Sophia will be only in walking distance. If you go by yourself, try to buy the tickets online so you don't have to wait on the line many hours. You can ask your hotel to book online tickets for you. If you don't, you can go and save your place early in the morning before they open. If you come with cruise you can exit left from the port along the street with the tram lines. It is well worth purchasing a museum pass if you will be visiting more than 4 museums/palaces after Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia Facts

• Sophia means Wisdom in Greek Language. When we translate the full name of Hagia Sophia to English it is Shrine of The Holy of God.

• Hagia Sophia was dedicated to Logos who was the second person in the Holy Trinity, in December 25th.

• There were two more Churches accepted as Church of Holy Wisdom, but only Hagia Sophia was not destroyed.

• The Alter, the bells, sacrificial vessels and iconostasis were all removed when the church was converted into a mosque.

• When Hagia Sophia was a church 50 foot silver iconostasis was decorating inside, now it is on display in the museum.

• Only Patheon in Rome has slightly bigger dome than the dome of Hagia Sophia in the world.

Hagia Sophia in Turkey

The Grandest And Most Historic Interiors On This Planet - The Grand Cathedral Of Hagia Sofia, The Church Of The Holy Wisdom

• Hagia Sophia was converted in to a museum in 1935 by the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

• Eastern Orthodox Church focused on Hagia Sophia for 1000 years as an important place.

• The Blue Mosque and Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul were designed with an inspiration of Hagia Sophia.

• Hagia Sophia as a museum has both Christian and Islamic influences and features today.

• Hagia Sophia has 40 windows in the area where worshipers sit and it's known as famous reflecting mystical light.

• When the dome of Hagia Sophia was placed, walls began to lean outward because of the weight. Then walls to support to dome were built.

• A mathematician, a Scientist and a physicist designed the Hagia Sophia.

• Many Christian mosaics and frescoes were plastered over when Hagia Sophia converted in to a mosque by Sultan Mehmed II.

• Hagia Sophia is visible from far miles distances because of its grandness.

• The stone cannonballs, which were used by Mehmet the Conqueror, are on display near the entrance of Hagia Sophia.

• Hagia Sophia is one of the most important buildings in Istanbul and needs some restorations and repairs.

• Hagia Sophia was constructed over fault line and earthquake can tear the structure down. It must be strengthened with some works.

• Some repairs in Hagia Sophia are going on today but definitely needs more financing.

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