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Hagia Sophia

Vacation Travel Guide
Hagia Sophia which includes religious aspects, heritage architecture and a church or cathedral

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.

Top things to do in Hagia Sophia

Top Hotels Close to Hagia Sophia

Hotel Arcadia Blue Istanbul
Hotel Arcadia Blue Istanbul
4 out of 5
Dr. Imran Oktem Cad. No:1, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
The price is $80 per night from Sep 1 to Sep 1
Located in Sultanahmet, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Turkish and Islamic Art Museum and Sultanahmet Square. Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern are also ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (735 reviews)
"The hotel was very clean and looked just like the pictures, with a beautiful view! We enjoyed our stay very much especially because the staff were amazing and so friendly and accommodating. Definitely recommend!!"

Reviewed on Jul 26, 2021

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Sultanhan Hotel - Special Class
Sultanhan Hotel - Special Class
4 out of 5
Piyer Loti Cad No:7, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is $150 per night from Aug 17 to Aug 17
Located in Sultanahmet, this spa hotel is steps from Cemberlitas Bath and Column of Constantine. Sultanahmet Square and Blue Mosque are also within 10 minutes. ...
4.4/5Wonderful! (986 reviews)
"Great location, all sightseeing nearby. Very clean hotel. Very friendly and helpful staff, always their to help"

Reviewed on Aug 1, 2021

Sultanhan Hotel - Special Class
Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel
Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel
5 out of 5
Divanyolu Cd. Alemdar Mah., Ticarethane Sk. No 10 Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is $152 per night from Aug 7 to Aug 7
This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the historical district, within a 5-minute walk of Sultanahmet Square, Basilica Cistern, and Hagia Sophia. ...
4.3/5Excellent! (21 reviews)
"Location"

Reviewed on Aug 3, 2021

Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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Best Lodging Options Near Hagia Sophia

Ottoman Hotel Imperial - Special Class
Ottoman Hotel Imperial - Special Class
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Caferiye Sok. No. 6/1, Sultanhmet, Istanbul, Istanbul
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