What is Hagia Sophia?

First and foremost, Hagia Sophia has been one of the greatest architectural monuments of the world since the late antiquity. It has been shaping the skyline of this former imperial Capital for last 15 Centuries. Easy to say?.. At the beginning, Hagia Sophia was designed, achieved, after long and painful process opened as the major church of the Eastern Roman Empire. Following all those (both glorious and tumultuous!) years, recently, the status of this marvel became an issue once more. Below, you may find some basic historical facts and most recent visiting info for the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia and Istanbul Landscape behing along the Bosphorus

The History of Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia building that still stands today is, in fact, the third one that was opened at the Christmas day of the year 537. There is not much of information about the first building from the 4th century. The second one was destroyed during a rebellion in January of the year 532.


The Basic timeline of Hagia Sophia:

  • Hagia Sophia had originally been built as a Church and served as for 9 centuries.
  • The Christian world was divided as Orthodox and Catholic Churches and Hagia Sophia remained as the head of the Easterns Orthodox Church (1054)
  • The IV. Crusader Army invaded Constantinople in 1204 and Hagia Sophia became a Latin Catholic Church for the next 57 years
  • It was transformed into a mosque by the Ottomans upon the conquest of Constantinople in 1453
  • In 1934, the young and secular Republic of Turkey declared Hagia Sophia a Museum.
  • In 2020, the Presidency of Turkey converted the building back into a mosque, since then it is officially called “Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque”


Hagia Sophia Visiting Info:

Do we need a ticket to visit Hagia Sophia?

No, as an actual mosque, visiting Hagia Sophia does not require a ticket. So, it is free to go in.

Hagia Sophia Openin Times:

There are no certain opening times for Hagia Sophia as it is bound to the praying times. A little while before the calls from the mosques, the interior area is evacuated by visitors. In general, morning hours are the most suitable times to make a visit between 9:30 and 12:30. If you prefer the afternoon hours, do not forget to check the afternoon prayer (ikindi in Turkish) times to avoid half an hour before and after of that prayer.

Do not forget that the praying times are always depending on the movement of the sun. So, the timings of the calls for prayers move throughout the year according to the season. For example, the afternoon prayer could be 3:30pm in winter or as well 5:15pm in summer.

What to wear in Hagia Sophia?

Like all mosques, there is a dress code according to which everybody should cover their shoulders, legs and ladies should hair. Therefore, you may bring a scarf of your own. Otherwise, an official kiosk inside the garden provides one-timer covers for 20 TL to wear on your clothes.