Visit to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul: How to get there, prices and advice

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Martí Micolau

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La Hagia Sophia it is one of the most spectacular places on Earth. Famous all over the world for its splendid Byzantine mosaics, this imposing former church located in the heart of Istanbul is one of those stages that must be reached at least once in a lifetime. Born as a place of Christian worship, which later became a mosque, today the Hagia Sophia is a museum that attracts tourists from all over the world, who flock to see its wonders. To visit it you do not need who knows what reasons, only the images of its rich interiors should be enough, but it is still good to deepen something before visiting it. Are you already packing your suitcase, right? Well, then here's what you need to know about how to achieve it.


  1. How to reach us
  2. Costs and timetables
  3. Visiting Aya Sofia: Useful Tips
  4. Historical notes, curiosities and practical info: what to know about Santa Sofia in brief
  5. User questions and comments

How to reach us

The Hagia Sophia is located in a very convenient position to be reached both by public transport and on foot. Beware of the fact that all means of transport do not stop in front of the building, but a few hundred meters away, so you will have to walk a bit.

  • On foot: from Central Station take Alemdar Cd for about 20 min - Get directions
  • By bus: 81, BN1, BN2, YT-1
  • By metro: tram T1

Costs and timetables

The Hagia Sophia is open 6 days a week with continuous hours from morning until late afternoon-evening. Depending on the period of your trip, pay attention to the closing time: in winter the Basilica closes a couple of hours earlier than in summer.

  • winter Tue-Sun 9:30 am - 17:00 pm. Summer Tue-Sun 9:30 am - 19:00 pm
  • Full ticket: Great Palace Mosaic Museum 15 TRY (€ 3,00). Kariye Museum 30 TRY (€ 6,00), Tethiye Museum 5 TRY (€ 1,00) - Buy online
  • Reductions: free admission for children under 6
  • Any other business: the section that includes the Kariye Museum is closed until 31/12/2018

Tours, guided tours and tickets online

  • Bosphorus cruise with dinner included: from € 50,00 - see the offer
  • Walking tour of the Blue Mosque and Islamic art: from € 25,00 - see the offer
  • Guided tour of the Hagia Sophia: from € 14,90 - see the offer

Visiting Aya Sofia: Useful Tips

No special precautions are required to visit the Hagia Sophia. In fact, today the museum is no longer considered a place of worship, so you won't run the risk of breaking any rules on clothing.

  1. Get up early: the best time to visit is early in the morning. Try to arrive before 11am to avoid crowds
  2. Buy the city card: if you have the Istanbul Tourist Pass you will not need to buy a ticket. The visit to the Hagia Sophia is in fact included in the circuit
  3. Priority ticket: buy the ticket with priority entrance to avoid the endless queues
  4. Watch out for restrictions: all the rules that should be respected in a normal museum apply, so pay attention to the photographs and not to introduce food
  5. Minimum time: in general the more time you spend, the better. Try to dedicate at least two hours to it

Historical notes, curiosities and practical info: what to know about Santa Sofia in brief

La history of the Hagia Sophia it is quite complex. Born at the behest of the Emperor Justinian in 537 AD, the Basilica takes its name from "Sophia", that is, from the wisdom (of God). This place has seen a myriad of different religions and cults inside: from 537 to 1437 it was an Orthodox cathedral, from 1204 to 1261 it became a Catholic cathedral, while from 1435 to 1931 it was an Ottoman mosque. Deconsecrated in 1935, it later became the museum we know today.

The church is about 1.000 years older than San Pietro, a place of Christian worship par excellence. Even its dome, which is part of the World Heritage Site, has an undisputed record to date: it is 56 meters high and 30 meters in diameter. However it must be said that what we see today is not the original dome of the inauguration: in 559 AD a strong earthquake caused the original dome to collapse, which was then rebuilt.
What stands out are certainly the numerous decorations, which initially consisted of drawings on marble slabs. In the th century, however, new images were added, including that of Christ, visible in the central dome, the priental saints, the prophets and the fathers of the Church.

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