Are you ready to meet one of the most magnificent structures produced by human history? Hagia Sophia is a structure that has a different story for each corner. The building has served humanity for centuries as a Church, Cathedral, and a Mosque. Let’s briefly get to know this extraordinary structure that fascinates everyone. And, for sure, also take a look at how we can get and what we can do there.
Hagia Sophia – centuries-old story
According to the Byzantine historians, the son of the king, Constantine built the first church here in 390 AD. However, later this structure was completely burnt. Emperor Justinianos selected Anthemius of Tralles (Aydın), and Isidoros of Miletos (Balat) to construct the building, which has survived until the present day. Those two were the two important architects of the period, and they worked between 532-537 AD.
In this period, 100 architects and 100 workers for each architect worked in the construction. That number makes a total of 10,000 people, and this many workers completed the construction in 5 years. And the oldest cathedral in the world was open for worship from 537 AD.
The world knows this unique work for its longest use (over 15 centuries) as a place of worship. The fourth-largest cathedral in the world, Hagia Sophia, has a total area of 7,500 m².
How to go to Hagia Sophia Museum?
Hagia Sophia Museum is located in Sultanahmet Square in the Fatih district of Istanbul. This region, also called the historical peninsula, is actually a wonderful area with many popular and historical buildings. It is possible to go to this point by car. But you will have trouble finding parking space in this region. Because there are always heavy traffic and crowd around this area. It is also useful to say that the streets around it are quite narrow as it is a historical neighborhood. If you are going to arrive here from Taksim, you can easily come to Kabataş using funicular. And you can move from there to Sultanahmet by tram.
If you are coming from Üsküdar or Kadıköy, you can come to Eminönü by ferry. Afterward, you can go to Sultanahmet, which is within walking distance, by walking or by tram.
On which hours can the Museum be visited?
Hagia Sophia Museum is open to visitors every day, including Sundays, especially during the summer season! Only the first days of Ramadan and Kurban holidays are closed for half a day. The visitors can enter the building using the Museum Cards used for the museums all around Turkey. These cards can be obtained from the Müzekart (Museum Card) box office in front of the door.
In the winter schedule, the museum can be visited between 09.00-18.00 (the last entrance time is 17.00). If you still want to be sure, you can check the entrance times and the entrance fee from this link.
Recommendations for your visit to Hagia Sophia
As you can see when you visit the museum, everything in the building is extremely special. Numerous mosaics, stones used, artifacts from other regions (for example, Lustration Urn from Pergamon) are waiting to welcome the visitors. And additions made throughout history make the building the owner of an endless story.
Over the years, many Ottoman Sultans made additions to Hagia Sophia, which gave the building the characteristics of a mosque. As the first addition, Mehmed II, who conquered Istanbul, added a wooden minaret after turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
In the 16th century, Mimar (meaning ‘Architect’ in Turkish) Sinan, had important contributions to the building. He built the brick minaret and fixed the dome of the building, which collapsed many times until then. The dome never collapsed again after Mimar Sinan added a retaining wall to the building.
Additions to the building
Beyazid, the son of Fatih Sultan Mehmed, built another minaret outside the door. With the additional two minarets built by Selim II, the son of Suleiman the Magnificent, Hagia Sophia reached its final form with four minarets.
Hagia Sophia still hosts approximately 4 million tourists annually. The authorities consider it as one of the most important cultural and historical heritages of the world. And people see this artwork as the 8th wonder of the world. Therefore, we recommend you to go to the museum early to see everything about this building.
Anything more to see around the Museum?
In addition to this important masterpiece, for sure there are amazing points to see around the area. It would be nice to spare some time for other important structures such as Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, and the Obelisk in the vicinity of Hagia Sophia.
You can also stop by the extremely popular shopping center called Grand Bazaar, which is very close to Hagia Sophia. Here you can buy gifts for your loved ones and find something for yourself. But be aware that beautiful surprises are waiting for you.