Hagia Sophia Overview

Hagia Sophia is one of the treasured heritage monuments in Istanbul that reminisces of the Byzantine era of architecture. It had been a multi-faceted monument with first being a Greek orthodoxy cathedral, then a mosque and now, a museum.

The exhibition hall is home to a huge collection of mosaics, coverings and marble pillars that age back to several centuries. Hagia Sophia is a great architectural beauty in Istanbul that stands as a testimony to the glorious past. Include this cultural gem in your Turkey itinerary, where the captivating allure of Hagia Sophia effortlessly blends with the rich heritage and landscapes, creating an unparalleled Turkish experience.

Hagia Sophia was built in 532 AD and it was considered the largest cathedral in the whole world for almost a millennium up until 1520. It served as a cathedral for Greeks until 1935 and was then converted into Ayasofya Museum by the president Kemal Ataturk.

At that point of time, the carpets from the floor were removed and it was the first time the intricate design works on the floor came into the limelight. The work of mosaics and frescoes will keep anyone stunned by their majestic and marvellous presence.

Being tourists you would certainly fall in love with some of the points of interest in this monument like the marble door, wishing column and loge of the empress. The museum has been subjected to several renovation and restoration work by the government of Turkey to preserve this heritage building and make it a centre of tourist attraction in the country.

Zillions of tourists have been visiting this architectural marvel year over year. If you are planning to visit Istanbul during your holiday vacation, then do not miss out on visiting this place and getting inspired by the engineering and architecture of the bygone times.

How To Reach

Hagia Sophia is located at a distance of 48 km from Istanbul airport and it takes about 35-45 minutes to cover the distance by a towncar, shuttle or private taxi.

Best Time To Visit

Every year, hundreds of people all over the world visit this place for its religious and historic significance. The climate of this place remains moderate throughout the year and this makes tourism possible in all seasons. 
This place can be visited from 9 AM to 7 PM from Mid-April to Mid-October and then from 9 AM to 5 PM from Mid-October to Mid-April.

Other Essential Information

Hagia Sophia Museum is located in Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul was known as Constantinople in the times gone by. 

Distance from Istanbul Airport: The museum, Hagia Sophia is located at a distance of 48 km from the international airport of Istanbul.

History of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, an enormous architectural marvel in Istanbul Turkey was initially constructed as a Christian Basilica in 532 AD. It has been one of the significant symbols of the city for more than 1500 years because of its mammoth structural presence and artisanship.

It has been associated with all the matters of international politics, art, architecture and religion as well. The cathedral had also served as a mosque before it was converted into a museum displaying exhibits of the bygone times. 

In the initial days, it was built with a wooden roof after its very first commissioning. In 404 AD, it was burned down to ashes in the course of the riots in Constantinople. It was rebuilt by the successor of Arkadious, Emperor Theodosios II in 415 AD. Hagia Sophia was built with five naves and an impressive entrance.

The wooden roof was once again used in the second phase of construction. Even the reconstruction could not make it for a longer period. It was subjected to fire for the second time during the Nika Revolts that kicked up against Emperor Justinian I.

The damage was so fatal that it could not be repaired. Justinian ordered a complete demolition of the remnants and commissioned well-known architects of that time to start the construction of the new basilica.

Architecture of Hagia Sophia

The architecture of Hagia Sophia is the only thing that has made it so popular in the world from its first opening to the final stage of reconstruction. The monument has traditional design elements everywhere. The length, width and height of the final construction is 267 ft., 240 ft., and 180 ft., respectively.

The final Hagia Sophia has a large and domed roof with semi-domed alter with porches. All the supporting arches were covered with mosaics in hexapterygons. Justinian I, the ruler behind the final reconstruction, ordered the provinces under his rule to send some architectural fragments for use in the construction so that the cathedral has influences of the Byzantine Empire.

The marble that was used to make the floor of the cathedral was bought from Anatolia and the bricks used in the walls were bought from North Africa. The interior of Hagia Sophia featured an imitation of moving water, which was shaped out with enormous marvel slabs.

104 columns are part of the monument that was imported from the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus and Egypt. The central dome of the monument rests on the ring of windows supported by the two semi-domes and two arches. All these are covered with intricate artworks of Christian Gospels on Mosaics, colourful stones, gold, silver, and glass.

Amazing facts about Hagia Sophia

Check out some of the amazing facts about Hagia Sophia here:

- The dome of the majestic Hagia Sophia is considered to be the second largest dome in the world after Pantheon in Rome.

The final construction of the Hagia Sophia building took 5 years, 10 months and 4 days to collect. There were more than 10000 workers employed at the site. 

The cathedral of Hagia Sophia was the largest in the whole world for more than a millennium up until the construction of Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

The bricks that support the dome of the building are hollow. The brick was especially for Hagia Sophia in Rhodes by means of very light and porous clay. 

The total surface area of the cupolas along with the dome is close to 19000 

There have been two reconstructions at the same site until date with numerous renovation and restoration works. The first and second construction was set to fire in the course of the riots at that time. 

The construction materials were brought from various parts of the Byzantine empire of that time to add specialities of all parts of the empire to the monument.

Tips on visiting Hagia Sophia

Here are some traveller's tips that you must keep in mind if you are planning to visit Hagia Sophia in Istanbul:

- You should carry enough water with you, as you need to keep yourself hydrated all the time.

You should not get a tripod with you as they are strictly prohibited inside the museum.

You can also make plans to come over to this place off-peak to get huge discounts on hotel bookings. 

You should carry all the travel documents with you so that you don’t face any inconveniences in the course of travel and sightseeing.
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Hagia Sophia FAQs

Why is the Hagia Sophia so important?

Hagia Sophia has been considered to be so important as it is an indispensable part of the Byzantine Empire. It had served as the main centre of the religious, political, and artistic life of the people. Apart from the Byzantine Empire, it was also considered sacred in terms of a mosque after Sultan Mehmed II conquered Istanbul in the year 1453.

What was the Hagia Sophia used for?

Hagia Sophia was initially built as a Roman Catholic church however, in the year 1453 it was converted into a mosque and later on it was renovated as a museum. In its long history of more than 1500 years, it has been used as a church, a mosque, and an exhibition hall.

What does the Hagia Sophia symbolize?

Hagia Sophia is a symbol of harmony, tolerance and peace in Turkey. It is considered sacred and is termed as the meeting point of the world's religion. The entire architecture of the monument represents the involved blend of Islamic arts and symbolic Christianity.

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