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Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)

Once a church, then a Byzantine cathedral, later a mosque and now a monument, this iconic building is a national treasure.

As one of the finest architectural marvels, as well as one of the largest churches, in the world, Hagia Sophia is Istanbul’s most famous landmark. The building you see today represents many cultures.

Known in Turkish as “Ayasofya” (Sacred Wisdom), Hagia Sophia has been of major religious importance to the region, and for various faiths. The church was first commissioned by the Romans and was opened in A.D. 360 before becoming Constantinople’s main Christian place of worship. After riots destroyed the building not once but twice, a new basilica was eventually built in the sixth century, and the Hagia Sophia became the center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

When the Ottoman Empire took control of Constantinople in 1453, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque. Its Christian features were covered or removed, and new Islamic features were added. Shortly after the Turkish Republic was proclaimed, Constantinople became Istanbul and the mosque was closed. The national monument is now open to the public as a museum.

With its four spectacular minarets and its grand central dome, the Hagia Sophia dominates the Istanbul skyline. Enter the church via the western portal. From the exonarthex, five portals open into the narthex. Admire ninth-century mosaics and 10th-century frescos from the Christian faiths. Note that the dome is decorated with Islamic inscription of verses from the Quran. The eastern corner of the gardens house the mausoleums of several sultans.

Since the Hagia Sophia is Istanbul’s leading cultural treasure, there are often long lines outside. However, visitors rarely have to wait more than half an hour to get in. Refreshments can be bought from a number of different cafés in the square.

Hagia Sophia is located in the Old City, and is accessible by public transport. The building is open daily, except Mondays. Visiting hours are longer in summer. Buy your entry ticket at the museum’s box office. Consider renting an audio guide to get a better understanding of the educational and cultural value of the Hagia Sophia.

Popular Activities at Hagia Sophia

We understand you want to make the most out of your time at Hagia Sophia. So, we've put together some of the coolest things you can do here:

Have a look at our Istanbul things to do page to find more activities in the area.


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Lodging Near Hagia Sophia

See all 2,662 Properties near Hagia Sophia
Doruk Palas Hotel $57
Reviewed on May 12, 2019
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Doruk Palas Hotel

Doruk Palas Hotel

Emekyemez Mahallesi, Nazli Hanim Sk. No 19 Galata, Istanbul, Istanbul
     
    4.8 of 5
    0.0 out of 5.0

    The reception staff, named Emir, is very hospitality and handy. My first night stay was at the 1floor and there was a minor issue of that room. Emir brought all the tools and try to fix it. What a NICE problem solver! well done! very thoughtful!

    Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel $83
    Reviewed on May 11, 2019
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    Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel

    Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel

    Divanyolu Cd. Alemdar Mah., Ticarethane Sk. No 10 Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Istanbul
       
      4.2 of 5
      5.0 out of 5.0

      Brand new hotel very close to Taksim, staff extremely friendly ( thank you Octai) and helpful room is clean and very comfortable with all the necessary items. I have no reservations in booking again. The view from the room overlooks an open area and their roof terrace where breakfast is served has ...

      The Ambassador Hotel $81
      Reviewed on May 12, 2019
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      The Ambassador Hotel

      The Ambassador Hotel

      Ticarethane Cikmazi No 19, Istanbul, Istanbul
         
        4.3 of 5
        3.5 out of 5.0

        Its a nice small hotel. Location is amazing near attractions. Staff is the best they help you with everything you Good breakfast. The only bad thing is that rooms are smaller than the pictures and there’s noise because of the bars, but there’s noise everywhere so there is no way to not be noisy in ...

        Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class $103
        Reviewed on Apr 9, 2019
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        Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class

        Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class

        Alemdar Mh., Ticarethane Sk. No:13, Fatih, Istanbul, Istanbul
           
          4.1 of 5
          5.0 out of 5.0

          Great location and very nice staff!! Thanks Ilham For all your help!!

          Ottoman Hotel Imperial - Special Class $73
          Reviewed on May 19, 2019
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          Ottoman Hotel Imperial - Special Class

          Ottoman Hotel Imperial - Special Class

          Caferiye Sok. No. 6/1, Sultanhmet, Istanbul, Istanbul
             
            4.3 of 5
            4.0 out of 5.0

            Fantastic location. Decent breakfast. First room had bathroom so small, the toilet was skewed to fit it in, but our heads are in the sink when we used it. After firmly complaining, we were begrudgingly upgraded. Second room had huge Turkish bath. Nice! The staff

            Lalinn Hotel $26
            Reviewed on May 20, 2019
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            Lalinn Hotel

            Lalinn Hotel

            Oyuncu Cikmazi Oyuncu Sok. No 4, Ahirkapi Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Istanbul
               
              4.1 of 5
              3.0 out of 5.0

              One of the greatest hotel in Istanbul. Limited services yet confortable Smiley and helpful staff The view is adorable One thing only : the stairs are really tiring after a long shopping day

              Hotel Amira Istanbul $113
              Reviewed on Apr 27, 2019
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              Hotel Amira Istanbul

              Hotel Amira Istanbul

              Kucuk Ayasofya Mahallesi Mustafa, Pasa Sokak No: 79 Sultahnamet, Istanbul, Istanbul
                 
                4.8 of 5
                0.0 out of 5.0

                The staff are amazing by far the best hotel we have ever stayed in. Fantastic location, beautiful rooms.Do not hesitate to book this hotel.

                GLK PREMIER Acropol Suites & Spa $147
                Reviewed on May 16, 2019
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                GLK PREMIER Acropol Suites & Spa

                GLK PREMIER Acropol Suites & Spa

                Akbiyik cad. No:21, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Istanbul
                   
                  4.4 of 5
                  5.0 out of 5.0

                  Breakfast was great. Staff was so nice and super helpful. This place is in an older part of Istanbul - but walking distance to some historical sites like the Blue Mosque and the Sultan’s Palace (Topkapi Palace & Museum). My room was excellent and clean. I highly recommend.