Hagia Sophia Guided Tour

Normal ticket value: €14

Included with Istanbul E-Pass

Hagia Sophia of Istanbul 

Imagine a building standing in the same place for 1500 years - the number one temple for two religions. The headquarter of Orthodox Christendom and the first mosque in Istanbul. It was constructed within only 5 years. It is the  biggest dome  with 55.60 height and 31.87 diameters for 800 years in the world. Depictions of the religions side by side. Coronation place for the Roman Emperors. It was the meeting place of the Sultan and his people. That is the famous  Hagia Sophia mosque of Istanbul.

Istanbul E-pass includes Hagia Sophia Tour with English speaking Professional Guide. For details, please check "Hours & Meeting".

What time does Hagia Sophia open?

It is open every day until the night prayer. There is no entrance fee or ticket.

Where is the Hagia Sophia located? 

It is located in the heart of the old city. It is easy to excess with the public transportation.

From the old city hotels; Get the T1 tram to Sultanahmet tram station. From there it takes 5 minutes of walk to arrive there.

From Taksim Hotels; Get the funicular from the Taksim Square to Kabataş. From there, take the T1 tram to Sultanahmet tram station. It is 5 minutes walk from the tram station to reach there.  

From Sultanahmet Hotels;  It is within walking distance from most hotels in the Sultanahmet area.  

How long does it take to visit the Hagia Sophia and what is the best time? 

You can visit within 30 minutes on your own. Guided tours take around 1-1.5 hours. There are lots of little details in this building. As it is functioning as a mosque right now, one should be aware of the praying times. Early morning would be an excellent time to pay a visit there. You can also have access to the Hagia Sophia plan.

Hagia Sophia History 

The majority of the travelers mix the famous  Blue Mosque  with Hagia Sophia. Including the  Topkapi Palace , one of the most visited sites in Istanbul, these three buildings are on UNESCO's heritage list. Being opposite to each other, the most significant difference between these buildings is the number of the minarets. A minaret  is a tower on the side of the mosque. This tower's primary purpose is to make the call to prayer in the old days before the microphone system. Blue mosque has 6 minarets. Hagia Sophia has 4 minarets. Aside from the number of the minarets, another difference is the history. Blue Mosque is an  Ottoman construction .Hagia Sophia is older than Blue Mosque, and it is a  Roman construction . The difference is about 1100 years.

The building has several names. Turks call the building  Ayasofya . In English, the name of the building is  St. Sophia . This name causes some problems. The majority thinks that there is a saint with the name Sophia and the name comes from her. But the original name of the building is Hagia Sophia. The name comes from ancient Greek. The meaning of Hagia Sophia in ancient Greek is  Divine Wisdom . Dedication of the church was to Jesus Christ. But the original name of the church was  Megalo Ecclesia . Big Church or Mega Church was the name of the original building.As this was the central church in Orthodox christianity, there are beautiful examples of mosaics inside the building. One of these mosaics shows  Justinian the 1st , presenting the church's modal and  Constantine the 1st  presenting the modal of the city to Jesus and Mary. This was a tradition in the  Roman Era . If an emperor orders a building, his mosaic should be decorating the construction. From the  Ottoman Era , there are lots of beautiful calligraphy works. The most famous being the holy names in Islam adorns the building for about 150 years. Another one is graffiti, which comes from the 11th century.A Viking soldier named Haldvan writes his name in one of the galleries on the second floor of Hagia Sophia. This name is still visible in the  upper gallery  of the building.

In history, there were 3 Hagia Sophia. Constantine the Great  gave the order of the first church in the 4th century AD, right after he declared Istanbul as the Roman Empire's capital city. He wanted to show the glory of the new religion. For that reason, the first church was again a big construction. Since the church was a wooden church, the first was destroyed during a fire. 

As the first church was destroyed during a fire,  Theodosius 2nd  ordered the second church. The construction started in the 5th century, and the church was demolished during  Nika Riots  in the 6th century.  

The final construction started in the year 532 and finished in 537. In a short 5 year time of construction, the building started functioning as a church. Some records say that 10.000 people worked in construction to be able to finish in a short time. The architects were both from the western side of Turkey. Isidorus of Miletos  and  Anthemius of Tralles .  

After the construction, the building functions as a church until the Ottoman Era. The  Ottoman Empire  conquered the city of Istanbul in 1453.  Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror  gave the order for Hagia Sophia to turn into a mosque. With the order of the Sultan, they covered the faces of the mosaics inside the building. They added minarets and a new Mihrab (the direction to Makkah in Saudi Arabia today). Until the republic period, the building serves as a mosque. In 1935 this historic mosque turned into a museum with the order of the parliament. The faces of the mosaics were opened one more time.In the best part of the story, inside the mosque, one can still see the symbols of two religions side-by-side. It is an excellent place to understand tolerance and togetherness.  

In the year 2020, the building, for a final time, started functioning as a mosque. Like every mosque in Turkey, visitors may visit the building between morning till night prayer. The dres' code is the same for all of the mosques in Turkey. Ladies need to cover their hair and need to wear long skirts or loose trousers. Gentleman can not wear shorts higher than the knee level. During the museum's time, prayers were not allowed, but now anyone desiring to pray can go in and do so in the praying times.

The Final Word

While you are in Istanbul, missing on visiting Hagia Sophia, a historical wonder, is something you will regret later. Hagia Sophia is not just a monument but a representation of various religious cultures. It holds immense significance that every religion wanted to own it. Standing under the tombs of such a powerful building will take you on a venerated tour of history. Avail of amazing discounts by starting your majestic tour by buying an  Istanbul E-pass .

Hagia Sophia Tour Times

There are several tour options in day time. 
You can manage your tour time with our customer support team.

Istanbul E-pass Guide Meeting Point

Meet with the guide in front of the Big bus Sultanahmet (Old City) Stop.

Our guide will hold the Istanbul E-pass flag at the meeting point and time.

Big bus Old City Stop is located across the Hagia Sophia, and you can easily see dark red double-decker buses.

Important Notes:

Hagia Sophia Guided Tour will be in English.

The dress code is the same for all of the mosques in Tukey

Ladies need to cover their hair and wear long skirts or loose trousers.

Gentleman can not wear shorts higher than the knee level.

 

Know before you go

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is Hagia Sophia famous?

    Hagia Sophia is the largest Roman church that still stands in Istanbul. It is nearly 1500 years old, and it is full of decorations from Byzantium and Ottoman times.

  • Where is Hagia Sophia located?

    Hagia Sophia is located in the center of the old city, Sultanahmet. This is also the place of the majority of the historical sights in Istanbul.

  • Which religion Hagia Sophia belong to?

    Today, the Hagia Sophia serves as a mosque. But initially, it was built as a church in the 6th century AD.

  • Who built Hagia Sophia Istanbul?

    Roman Emperor Justinian gave the order for the Hagia Sophia. In the building process, according to the records, more than 10000 people worked in the leadership of two architects, Isidorus of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles.

  • What is the dress code to visit Hagia Sophia?

    As the building operates as a mosque today, the visitors are kindly asked to wear modest clothes. For ladies, long skirts or trousers with scarves; for the gentleman, trousers lower than the knee are required.

  • Is it ´´Aya Sophia´´ or ´´Hagia Sophia´´?

    The original name of the building is Hagia Sophia in Greek which means Holy Wisdom. Aya Sophia is the way that Turks pronounce the word ''Hagia Sophia''.

  • What is the difference between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia?

    Blue Mosque was built as a mosque, but Hagia Sophia was initially a church. Blue Mosque is from the 17th century, but the Hagia Sophia is about 1100 years older than the Blue Mosque.

  • Hagia Sophia is a church or a mosque?

    Originally Hagia Sophia was built as a church. But today, it serves as a mosque starting from the year 2020.

  • Who is buried in Hagia Sophia?

    There is an Ottoman cemetery complex attached to Hagia Sophia for sultans and their families. Inside the building, there is the memorial burial site of Henricus Dandalo, who came to Istanbul in the 13th century with the crusaders.

  • Are tourists allowed to visit Hagia Sophia?

    All tourists are allowed to Hagia Sophia. As the building serves now as a mosque, Muslim travelers are ok to pray inside the building. Non-Muslim travelers are also welcomed between the prayers.

  • When was Hagia Sophia built?

    Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century. The construction took five years, between 532 and 537.

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