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Hagia Sophia
Holiday Travel Guide

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 things to do in Hagia Sophia

Top 10 Hotels Near Hagia Sophia

Sultanahmet Nu Hotel
Sultanahmet Nu Hotel
Binbirdirek Mahallesi, Dizdariye Yokusu Sokak no 6, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM96 per night from 5 Mar to 6 Mar

Located in Sultanahmet, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Cemberlitas Bath, Grand Bazaar and Blue Mosque. Sultanahmet Square and Basilica Cistern are ...

4/5Very Good! (92 reviews)

"Overall great experience, everyone was nice to meet and room service was great!"…"

Reviewed on 10 Dec 2020

Sultanahmet Nu Hotel
The Marmara Pera
The Marmara Pera
4 out of 5
Mesrutiyet Cad. Tepebasi, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM250 per night from 18 Mar to 19 Mar

This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the entertainment district, within a 15-minute walk of Galata Tower and Mixer. Taksim Square and Suleymaniye ...

4/5Very Good! (973 reviews)

"The view of the hotel is excellent. The rooms are cleaned on a daily basis, the staff are cheerful at all times and they have 24 hour room service"…"

Reviewed on 22 Nov 2020

The Marmara Pera
Sultanhan Hotel - Special Class
Sultanhan Hotel - Special Class
4 out of 5
Piyer Loti Cad No:7, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM257 per night from 5 Mar to 6 Mar

Located in Sultanahmet, this spa hotel is steps away from Cemberlitas Bath and Column of Constantine. Sultanahmet Square and Blue Mosque are also within 10 minutes. ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (987 reviews)

"Close to all tourists attractions, very nice and helpful staff"…"

Reviewed on 22 Feb 2021

Sultanhan Hotel - Special Class
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

Top Hagia Sophia Hotel Deals

Sultanahmet Nu Hotel
Sultanahmet Nu Hotel
Binbirdirek Mahallesi, Dizdariye Yokusu Sokak no 6, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM96 per night from 5 Mar to 6 Mar
Sultanahmet Nu Hotel
The Marmara Pera
The Marmara Pera
4 out of 5
Mesrutiyet Cad. Tepebasi, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM250 per night from 18 Mar to 19 Mar
The Marmara Pera
Sultanhan Hotel - Special Class
Sultanhan Hotel - Special Class
4 out of 5
Piyer Loti Cad No:7, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM257 per night from 5 Mar to 6 Mar
Sultanhan Hotel - Special Class
Levni Hotel & Spa
Levni Hotel & Spa
4.5 out of 5
Ankara Caddesi No: 12 Sirkeci, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM251 per night from 5 Mar to 6 Mar
Levni Hotel & Spa
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
5 out of 5
Visnezade Mah. Acisu Sok. NO. 19, Macka Besiktas, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM770 per night from 5 Mar to 6 Mar
Swissotel The Bosphorus Istanbul
Erten Konak - Special Class
Erten Konak - Special Class
4 out of 5
Akbiyik Caddesi, Akbiyik Degirmeni Sokak 8/10, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM89 per night from 19 Mar to 20 Mar
Erten Konak - Special Class
Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel
Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel
5 out of 5
Divanyolu Cd. Alemdar Mah., Ticarethane Sk. No 10 Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM364 per night from 4 Mar to 5 Mar
Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel
Hagia Sofia Mansions Istanbul, Curio Collection by Hilton
Hagia Sofia Mansions Istanbul, Curio Collection by Hilton
Kabasakal Cad. No:5 Sultanahmet, Fatih, Istanbul
The price is RM435 per night from 23 Mar to 24 Mar
Hagia Sofia Mansions Istanbul, Curio Collection by Hilton
Lapis Inn Hotel & Spa ( Ex. Ambassador Hotel )
Lapis Inn Hotel & Spa ( Ex. Ambassador Hotel )
3.5 out of 5
Ticarethane Cikmazi No 19, Istanbul, Istanbul
The price is RM190 per night from 4 Mar to 5 Mar
Lapis Inn Hotel & Spa ( Ex. Ambassador Hotel )
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.