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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.


Guide to Exploring around Hagia Sophia


Map

Best Lodging Options Near Hagia Sophia

See all 3,477 Properties near Hagia Sophia
Aristocrat Hotel $46
Aristocrat Hotel

Aristocrat Hotel

Cankurtaran Mah.Dalbasti Sok No:11, Sultanahmet Fatih, Istanbul, Istanbul
     
    3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Sultanahmet, this hotel is steps from Blue Mosque and Sultanahmet Square. Hagia Sophia and Hippodrome of Constantinople are also within 5 minutes. Sultanahmet Station is only a 5-minute walk and Cemberlitas Station is 9 minutes.

    Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class $122
    Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class

    Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class

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

      Located in Sultanahmet, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of German Fountain, Hagia Sophia, and Sultanahmet Square. Grand Bazaar and Topkapi Palace are also within 10 minutes. Sultanahmet Station and Gulhane Station are within a 5-minute walk.

      Lapis Inn Hotel Old City ( Ex.Ambassador Hotel) $85
      Lapis Inn Hotel Old City ( Ex.Ambassador Hotel)

      Lapis Inn Hotel Old City ( Ex.Ambassador Hotel)

      Ticarethane Cikmazi No 19, Istanbul, Istanbul
         
        3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Sultanahmet, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of German Fountain, Sultanahmet Square, and Hagia Sophia. Grand Bazaar and Hippodrome of Constantinople are also within 10 minutes. Sultanahmet Station is only a 2-minute walk and Cemberlitas Station is 6 minutes.

        Hotel Sultania- Boutique Class $197
        Hotel Sultania- Boutique Class

        Hotel Sultania- Boutique Class

        Ebusuud Caddesi Mehmet Murat Sok. No 4, Sirkeci, Istanbul, Istanbul
           
          4.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Istanbul City Center, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Hagia Sophia, Eminonu Pier, and Topkapi Palace. Istanbul Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Centre and Isfanbul Theme Park are also within 9 mi (15 km). Gulhane Station is only a 2-minute walk and Sirkeci Station is 6 minutes.

          Golden Royal Cemberlitas $73
          Golden Royal Cemberlitas

          Golden Royal Cemberlitas

          binbirdirek mh.peykhane sk no 19, cemberlitas, Istanbul
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Sultanahmet, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Turkish and Islamic Art Museum and Grand Bazaar. Hippodrome of Constantinople and Hagia Sophia are also within 10 minutes. Cemberlitas Station is only a 2-minute walk and Sultanahmet Station is 5 minutes.

            Recital Hotel $51
            Recital Hotel

            Recital Hotel

            Binbirdirek Mah., Piyerloti Caddesi 21, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
               
              3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Sultanahmet, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Cemberlitas Bath and Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque. Hippodrome of Constantinople and Hagia Sophia are also within 10 minutes. Cemberlitas Station is only a 3-minute walk and Sultanahmet Station is 6 minutes.

              CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel Istanbul $108
              CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel Istanbul

              CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel Istanbul

              Gümüssuyu Mah. Inönü Cad. No:8, Istanbul, Istanbul
                 
                5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located on the Strip, within a 5-minute walk of Ataturk Cultural Center and Taksim Square. Dolmabahce Palace and Istiklal Avenue are also within 1 mi (2 km). Taksim Station is only a 3-minute walk and Findikli Station is 7 minutes.

                Villa Yasemen by Villamnet
                Villa Yasemen by Villamnet

                Villa Yasemen by Villamnet

                Gocek Mah, Istanbul, Istanbul
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Sultanahmet, this villa is steps from German Fountain, Hagia Sophia, and Sultanahmet Square. Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern are also within 5 minutes. Sultanahmet Station is only a 3-minute walk and Gulhane Station is 7 minutes.