Overview View Destination Packages
The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque or Ayasofya, was formerly Istanbul's largest Eastern Roman Church. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a rich history spanning over 1,500 years. The landmark’s unique design, extensive history, religious significance, and remarkable features have been mentioned again and again throughout the centuries. It is the world's oldest and fastest-completed cathedral, having been built three times in the same area.
With its stunning domes that appear to float in the air, enormous marble columns, and unmatched mosaics, it is one of the world's architectural wonders. The mosque's spectacular splendor, with its exquisite play on space, light, and color evokes awe in the viewer. The Hagia Sophia is situated on Istanbul's first hill, precisely at the point of the ancient peninsula, with the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn embracing it on three sides.
Interesting Facts about the Hagia Sophia
1. The landmark is known as Ayasofya in Turkey.
2. Builders used columns from Ephesus' Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, to fortify Hagia Sophia.
3. The name “Hagia Sophia” means "Holy Wisdom".
4. The 19th-century Islamic calligraphy plaques in the mosque were made of wood.
5. For 916 years, Hagia Sophia was a Christian church after becoming a mosque for 500 years.
6. It was formerly the biggest domed structure in the world.
The Hagia Sophia has seen many events throughout history. For centuries, it was the main cathedral of the Byzantine Empire and the religious center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Emperors were crowned here, as well as important religious rites and imperial meetings were held in it. After the Ottoman invasion of Constantinople in 1453, it was converted into a mosque, which brought new cultural, religious, and architectural influence to the landmarks’ history.
The Face of Cultures and Religions
The Hagia Sophia is a religious structure that combines Byzantine and Ottoman influences. Originally a Christian cathedral, it is decorated with beautiful Byzantine mosaics, urns, murals, etc. With the arrival of Islam with the Ottomans, architectural elements such as minarets, a mihrab, and calligraphic inscriptions were added when the building was converted into a mosque. Istanbul and Turkey are represented by the Hagia Sophia, which represents cultural, historical, and religious identities. Istanbul's unique past is reflected in the once-Christian cathedral and the current Islamic mosque.
An Unmissable Tourist Experience
The Hagia Sophia Mosque is renowned for both its exterior and interior. The Ottoman Sultan's mausoleums outside the structure are among the first to be visited. There are tombs of princes and mausoleums of Sultans Selim II, Murad III, Mehmed III, Mustafa I, and Ibrahim, whose reigns succeeded one another.
It also serves as the last resting place for five sultans and their families, giving it a revered historical significance that contributes to its antiquity. The four minarets of Hagia Sophia, fortified by Mimar Sinan, the clock room, fountains, buttresses, the treasury building, and the kitchen, add to the structure's splendor. Visitors can enter the main prayer hall, galleries, and upper floors, allowing them to see the beautiful features up close.
Things to Know Before Visiting
- Suggested Tour Duration: 1-2 hours
- Best Time to Visit: Late afternoon
- Entry Ticket: ₺450 (€15)
Note: It's important to note that visiting Hagia Sophia may require tourists to follow certain dress codes and rules such as wearing covering clothes, as it is a religious site.
Hagia Sofia Guided Tours
Hagia Sophia is a cultural, historical, and architectural masterpiece that has many stories to tell, from the Byzantine era through the Ottoman Empire and is the symbol of not only Istanbul but Turkey. To truly explore the historical and architectural elements, tourists can book guided tours to help them get around the landmark. Get the full tourist experience by exploring the Hagia Sophia by booking iLinkTurkey’s collection of Istanbul Tours now!