Visiting the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
Hagia Sophia Entrance Fee and Opening Hours
Hagia Sophia is the most popular historical landmark in Istanbul. On average, 3 million people visit Hagia Sophia within a year. Hagia Sophia was built between 532 and 537 by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. After being a church for 900 years, it was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman period.
Shortly after the founding of the Republic of Turkey, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in the 1930s. As of July 2020, it was decided to be converted back into a mosque. In this article, I will try to provide you up-to-date information on how you can visit Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
Today, you can see the best examples of Byzantine religious art in three places in Istanbul. One of them is Hagia Sophia, the other two are Kariye Museum (Chora Church) and Fethiye Museum (Pammakaristos Church).
Hagia Sophia Entrance Fee 2020
The entrance fee to Hagia Sophia was 100 Turkish Liras before turning into a mosque. However, according to the latest statement made by the government, no fee will be charged upon entering Hagia Sophia. Just like the Blue Mosque and other Istanbul mosques, you will be able to see Hagia Sophia free of charge, except during worship hours.
In order to gain a deeper knowledge about Hagia Sophia, you may hire a private tour guide. Hagia Sophia’s history is associated with emperors, patriarchs and riots. If you are looking for somebody to tell you about the stories of this place, you are advised to check Hagia Sophia Tour Guide website to find a licensed guide.
Hagia Sophia from the Sultanahmet Square
Hagia Sophia Opening Hours 2020
Hagia Sophia, like other mosques in Sultanahmet, will be open to visitors between 09:00 am and 05:00 pm. However, you will need to plan your visit in advance, as it will be closed to foreign visitors during worship hours.
Prayer times are determined by the length of the day. For this reason, the hours of worship will change every day according to the season. If you leave the hotel and go directly to a mosque, it may be closed because you do not know the exact time of the visit. For this reason, I will suggest you a way to calculate the opening-closing hours of Hagia Sophia in advance.
How do I know when I can visit Hagia Sophia?
If you type “Istanbul Ezan Saatleri” on the Google, you can see current prayer times for Istanbul. When you look at the image below, you will see how the prayer times are displayed on the website. For example “Öğle” means noon.
The Hagia Sophia will close about an hour before the prayer time reported here (around 12:00) . Approximately half an hour after the prayer time will be opened again. (around 13:30). This is the best way to check the latest opening hours of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque.
This is the link to check current praying hours for Istanbul.
Online Prayer Times for Istanbul, Turkey
Closed Days of the Museum for 2020
Hagia Sophia had been closed on Mondays when it was a museum. However, since it was converted into a mosque, there is no longer a closed day. It is open everyday, like other historical monuments such as the Blue Mosque and Suleymaniye Mosque.
However, mosques in Istanbul are closed to visitors during worship hours. Apart from that, since there is a congregational prayer on Fridays, mosques are not opened to visitors in the morning and remain closed until 14:30 in the afternoon. During this time, the mosque is cleaned and prepared for Friday prayers. After the prayer, it is opened to visitors.
As the time interval to visit the mosque narrows on Fridays, it can be overcrowded. If you are spending a few days in Istanbul, I suggest you to visit alternative museums such as Topkapi Palace and Dolmabahce Palace on Friday and visit the mosque the next day.
Visiting Information on Hagia Sophia Museum
Places to Visit Around Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is located in Sultanahmet, right in the heart of Istanbul Old City. Since the imperial center was here during the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, there are many historical monuments and museums. If you want to visit the museums at an affordable price, I recommend you to buy a Museum Pass.
The Museum Pass is valid in nearby museums in Sultanahmet, such as the Topkapi Palace and its Harem Rooms, the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, and the Great Palace Mosaic Museum.
You can find a list of all museums in which Museum Card is valid in Istanbul, in the Istanbul Museum Pass blog post. The Museum Pass is also valid in the Kariye Museum and Fethiye Museum, which I mentioned as Byzantine Sites in Istanbul at the beginning of the article.
View of the Hagia Sophia from a Hotel Terrace
Photos of Hagia Sophia
If you would like to see more about the Hagia Sophia, I suggest you the link below. The article introduces the interior of the Hagia Sophia with various photographs and practical information. You may find the Hagia Sophia Photos here.
Upper Galleries of Hagia Sophia
Mosaics of Hagia Sophia
The oldest mosaic in Hagia Sophia dates back to the 800s. Although Hagia Sophia was built in the 500s, there are no mosaics from those days. The reason for this is the Byzantine Iconoclasm. To learn about the priceless religious mosaic art of Hagia Sophia, I recommend the following article. You may find the Hagia Sophia Mosaics here.
Byzantine Mosaics in Hagia Sophia
Architecture of Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia was a structure that brought great innovation to the history of architecture. To place a giant dome on the Roman Arches was an issue that Roman architects tried and failed repeatedly.
This goal was finally achieved during the Eastern Roman Empire (which we call “Byzantine” in modern history), the continuation of Rome. In the following article you can read the story of this architectural adventure with visuals. You may find the Hagia Sophia Architecture here.
Architectural Wonder of the Ancient World