Hagia Sophia Tickets

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Opening hours

From 1st of April until the 31st of October it is open from 9am until 7pm.

From the 1st of November until the 31st of March it opens from 9am until 5pm.

The last entry is one hour before closing time.

The museum is officially closed every Monday. From the 1st of April 2019 the museum began opening on Mondays. This may be permanent or just a temporary gesture. It also closes on the first day of Ramadan and the first day of Eid Ul Adha, a festival known as the Feast of Sacrifice.

Directions

Walk- Hagia Sophia is easily within walking distance of several hotels located in Sultanahmet, the Old Town area close to Topkapi Palace.

Metro and Tram- The closest tram or metro station is located at Sultanahmet Station, from here it is a walk of a few minutes to the museum.

Taxi- taxis operate all over the city at reasonable rates, the problem is the traffic means any journey by road can take a long time due to heavy congestion.

FAQ

How much does it cost to visit the museum?
The entry fee costs 60 TL for adults. There is free entry for Turkish children aged 18 and younger, with children aged 12 and younger from other countries given free entry. Senior citizens from Turkey as well as disabled visitors with one attendant also have free entry.
How should I buy my tickets?
The most convenient way is to buy your tickets online. If you go to the ticket office you may find you are queuing for several hours. Another option is to ask your hotel in Istanbul to buy your tickets for you.
What does Hagia Sophia mean in English?
In the Greek language, Sophia means wisdom. When you translate the full name of Hagia Sophia, you will find it means the ‘Shrine of the Holy of God.’
What happened to the holiest relics when the church was converted into a mosque?
The altar, bells, iconostasis and sacrificial vessels were all removed from the church before it was converted into a mosque. Several historic items from the church are now on display in the museum. The iconostasis was 50 foot in length and made of silver and used for decoration it is now housed in the museum.
Is the dome the biggest in the world?
The dome of the Hagia Sophia is the world’s second largest dome. It is slightly smaller than that of the Pantheon in Rome. Hagia Sophia’s dome measures 31.24m in diameter and 55.6m high. When the dome was first constructed the weight of the structure caused the supporting walls to lean outwards, additional walls were then built to give further support to the dome.
When was it converted into a museum?
The first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk ordered that the Hagia Sophia be converted into a museum in 1935.
Does the museum feature both Christian and Islamic influences?
Yes, the museum of today features both Christian and Islamic influences, however when the church was converted into a mosque several Christian frescoes were painted over.

Must know

Constantine’s Church
The first church was built on the site of a pagan temple and was inaugurated by Constantius II in the year 360AD. It was a wooden roofed basilica with a nave and either two or four aisles. The church was burnt to the ground in 404 during riots.
Theodosius II Church
Theodosius II ordered that the church be rebuilt in 405, it is unknown if this church was built to the same design as the church it replaced. It did contain elements of architecture dating from the Byzantine period. This church was completely destroyed in January 532 during the Nika Revolt. Today, some surviving blocks of marble can be seen in the courtyard of the museum.
Justinian’s Church
A short time after suppressing the riots, Justinian the Great began the rebuild of the destroyed building, ordering what could be saved to be reused. Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Miletus were commissioned to rebuild the new church. It would stand on the same location as its predecessor with the order that it would be a greater construction than what it was replacing. They were called ‘mechanikoi’ or masters of the science of mechanics. They are not known for building anything before this creation yet they were responsible for one of the world’s greatest monuments. Materials were brought from Syria and Egypt, and over 10,000 people worked on the project. Apart from the mosaics it was completed in less than 5 years. Less than 20 years later the church was seriously damaged by a series of earthquakes which brought down the dome. Isodorus the Younger, the nephew of Isidore of Miletus was given the task of rebuilding the church. He made the dome 6.25m higher and after it officially opened in 562 imperial ceremonies were held there. From 726, until the mid 14th century the church was fought over by Christians and followers of Islam. Together with earthquakes there were several rebuilds during the centuries.
Hagia Sophia Mosque
In 1453, Mehmet II, The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople after a siege that lasted 54 days. The church was converted into a mosque. Minarets and two mausoleums were added over the centuries that followed.
Hagia Sophia Museum
Prior to 1934 if any western visitors wanted to attend Hagia Sophia they had to obtain a permit from the sultan. The uncovering of the mosaics had begun in 1931, carpets were replaced by the original marble and the museum opened on the 1st of February 1935.

Places nearby

Galata Tower
The Galata Tower stands majestically over the Istanbul skyline. It was the city’s tallest building at 67m high when built in 1348. Over the centuries its uses have changed, at one time it was used as an observation tower to spot fires across the city. Today it is used as a café, restaurant and night club with an elevator to rake you up to the ninth floor for views across the city.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum
This is one of Istanbul’s most important museums. It is actually three museums in one, the Archaeological Museum, the Ancient Orient Museum and the Tiled Kiosk Museum. Together they contain over one million artifacts from world civilizations.
Chora Church
This museum is not one of the main attractions for tourists to the city; however it is certainly worth a visit for its Byzantine art alone. It contains mosaics and frescoes that depict the life of Jesus, described as the greatest surviving works of Byzantine art. The building is over 1800 years old; it began as a monastery before converting to a mosque. In 1948 it was converted into its present form as a museum.
Basilica Cistern
This underground system has been providing the city with water since the 6th century. The technology used by the Romans under the Emperor Justinian is a wonder of architectural quality far advanced for its time. It is located very close to the Blue Mosque, known as the Sunken Palace it contains up to 2.8 million cubic feet of water.