TurkeyIstanbul $$$$$ All Year Mostly Indoor
Museum

Hagia Sophia Museum (Ayasofya Muzesi)

Initially constructed in 537 AD, this UNESCO World Heritage listed site is recognizable by its iconic grand dome. The dome measures 108 feet in diameter and 180 feet tall and is supported by several smaller domes creating a unique appearance both inside and out.

The architectural gem served as a church during the Byzantine Empire, then a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. In 1935, it was converted into a museum and now sees over 3 million visitors through its doors each year to marvel at the 11th-13th century mosaics, frescos, and exquisite architecture, and to say hello to resident Instagram star, Gli the cat.

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Price

Adult: ₺72 (USD$10.58), Child (0-8 yrs): Free

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Time Spent

1-1.5hours

Fitness level: Light effort

Hours

9am-5pm, Tuesday-Sunday (November-March)
9am-7pm, Tuesday-Sunday (April-October)

Look Around

Who Will Like Hagia Sophia Museum

Culture Buff

Immerse yourself fully in this complex historical site influenced by both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.

Bucketlist Bandit

Pick your jaw up off the ground as you make your way through this historic UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Photography Whiz

Bring your tripod to snap this architectural marvel at blue hour. Inside the museum, you’ll find countless angles to capture the building’s grandeur and beauty.

Insider Tips For Hagia Sophia Museum

  • Visit early in the mornings to avoid long queues.
  • Book tickets online for fast-track entry and a licensed guide to explain the building’s historical and cultural significance.
  • Download a 3rd party museum guide app (iOS, Android) for offline maps and historical facts. The app costs USD$0.99.

Video

Where Is It

Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey

Open map...

How To Get There

Taxi

Insist on using the taxi meter before hopping in.

Bus (iST-20Sultanahmet)

5-minute walk from bus stop.

Walking directions from bus...

Train (T1Sultanahmet)

5-minute walk from train station.

Walking directions from train...

What To Bring

Do:
  • Camera for internal and external photos.
  • Tripod for external shots at blue hour.
  • Comfortable shoes suitable for walking.
Don't:
  • Food or drink inside the building.

Tech & Photography

Wifi

Public wifi access: None

Photography

Photography allowed: Yes

Tripod allowed: No

Selfie sticks allowed: Yes

Best time to shoot: Blue Hour

Tips: Skip the crowded entrance hall and go straight to the balcony for better photo opportunities. Set your tripod up near the fountain in the large park for the best night shots of the southern façade of the illuminated building.

Drones

Drones allowed: No

Bags

Backpacks allowed: Yes

Secured bag lockers available: No

Food & Drink

Water is available for purchase inside the museum for an inflated price. Several food and drink stands are located in the park opposite the museum. Don’t miss the Turkish ice cream stand for a snack with a show. For a more substantial meal, visit one of the many Turkish and international restaurants located on surrounding streets.

Backstory

Originally constructed as a Greek Orthodox basilica in 360 AD, burned down in 404 AD, reconstructed in 415 AD, and destroyed again by fire a century later. The current building was commissioned by Emperor Justinian and completed in 537 AD. Design and construction elements were ordered from every province of the Byzantine Empire including marble from eastern Turkey and Syria, bricks from North Africa, and columns from the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. The construction only took 6 years to complete but was rushed, leading to a partial dome collapse during construction and a near-complete dome collapse two decades later. The dome structure and support were then redesigned and have stood tall ever since with minor maintenance.

When the city was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453 A.D., the church was converted to a mosque. The Christian artwork was covered, grand inscribed medallions were placed on the columns, and a mihrab, bronze lamps, marble cubes, and minarets were introduced.

Etiquette

Do:
  • Remove shoes when required as the museum is still considered to be a sacred site. 
  • Be considerate of other visitors taking photos in popular locations.
Don't:
  • Eat or drink inside the museum. 

Scorecard

Best Parts:
  • Architectural beauty with domes incredibly large for their time.
  • Historical significance spanning 2 empires and over 15 centuries.
  • Mosaics and frescos over 1,000 years old.
Could Be Better:
  • Queues to enter can be very long and confusing.
  • Self-guided audio tours only touch on a little of the rich history of this captivating building.
My itinerary Save View

Oh, you're so close

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