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Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel advisories, some destinations may be unavailable for certain dates. Find out more.
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Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)

A world famous monument to the ever-changing history of Istanbul, and one of the largest churches in the world.

Known as “Ayasofa” (Sacred Wisdom) in Turkish, the Hagia Sofia started out as a church, becoming a cathedral under the Byzantine empire. Later it would become a mosque, and most recently a museum and monument that is hugely valued by the people of Turkey.

Looking across the Istanbul skyline, the Hagia Sophia demands the eye's attention. It has four magnificent minarets which soar into the sky around its enormous central dome, considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture – this is a stunning design, and Istanbul's most celebrated landmark.

Come through the western portal to enter, passing through the exonarthex, and then through one of the five portals to the narthex. Look upwards and marvel at the dome, inscribed with many verses from the Qur'an, and admire the ornate Christian mosaics and frescos, dating from the ninth and 10th centuries. The eastern corner is the resting place of a large number of sultans, where they are contained in their mausoleums.

First built by the Romans in 360 as a Christian church, the Hagia Sophia was twice destroyed by riots. A new basilica was constructed in the sixth century, and it became the centre of the Eastern Orthodox church. When Istanbul was captured by the Ottomans in 1453, the building was converted into a mosque, and a process of “Islamification” was undertaken – Christian features were covered up, and new Muslim ones were added. After the advent of modern Turkey, the building was closed, and then reopened as a museum in 1936.

As you might expect for the city's premier attraction, there are often long lines outside the Hagia Sophia, but the queues rarely last longer than half an hour. Snacks and drinks are available outside.

Easily accessible by public transport, it is open daily, except on Monday. You can get your ticket at the box office, where an audio guide can also be rented – this will give you a much deeper sense of the history and culture of this fascinating monument.


Top Hagia Sophia Hotel Deals

See all 3,578 properties near Hagia Sophia
Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class RM512
Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class

Sura Design Hotel and Suites - Boutique Class

Alemdar Mh., Ticarethane Sk. No:13, Fatih, Istanbul, Istanbul
     
    5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Sultanahmet, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, and Sultanahmet Square. Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar are also within 10 minutes. Sultanahmet Station and Gulhane Station are within a 5-minute walk.

    Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel RM445
    Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel

    Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel

       
      5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the historical district, within a 5-minute walk of Basilica Cistern, Sultanahmet Square and Hagia Sophia. Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar are also within 10 minutes. Sultanahmet Station is only a 2-minute walk and Cemberlitas Station is 6 minutes.

      Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul RM917
      Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul

      Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul

         
        5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the historical district, within 1 mi (2 km) of City's Nişantaşı Shopping Center, Dolmabahce Palace and Taksim Square. Vodafone Arena and Istiklal Avenue are also within 2 miles (3 km). Maçka Cable Car Station is 7 minutes by foot and Taşkışla Cable Car Station is 12 minutes.

        Lapis Inn Hotel Old City ( Ex.Ambassador Hotel) RM274
        Lapis Inn Hotel Old City ( Ex.Ambassador Hotel)

        Lapis Inn Hotel Old City ( Ex.Ambassador Hotel)

        Ticarethane Cikmazi No 19, Istanbul, Istanbul
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Sultanahmet, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Basilica Cistern, Sultanahmet Square, and Hagia Sophia. Blue Mosque and Hippodrome of Constantinople are also within 5 minutes. Sultanahmet Station is only a 2-minute walk and Cemberlitas Station is 6 minutes.

          Lalinn Hotel RM67
          Lalinn Hotel

          Lalinn Hotel

             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Located in Sultanahmet, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Arasta Bazaar, Sultanahmet Square and Blue Mosque. Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern are also within 10 minutes. Sultanahmet Station is 10 minutes by foot and Istanbul Cankurtaran Station is 5 minutes.

            White House Hotel Istanbul RM417
            White House Hotel Istanbul

            White House Hotel Istanbul

               
              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Sultanahmet, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Basilica Cistern, Sultanahmet Square and Hagia Sophia. Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar are also within 10 minutes. Sultanahmet Station and Gulhane Station are within a 5-minute walk.

              Ottoman Hotel Imperial - Special Class RM322
              Ottoman Hotel Imperial - Special Class

              Ottoman Hotel Imperial - Special Class

                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the historical district, just steps away from Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia. Sultanahmet Square and Gulhane Park are also within 5 minutes. Gulhane Station is only a 4-minute walk and Sultanahmet Station is 5 minutes.

                Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet RM2,076
                Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

                Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet

                   
                  5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in Sultanahmet, this luxury hotel is steps away from Sultanahmet Square and Hagia Sophia. Basilica Cistern and Blue Mosque are also within 5 minutes. Istanbul Cankurtaran Station is only a 4-minute walk and Sultanahmet Station is 6 minutes.