Hagia Sophia

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Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia Istanbul Reviews

irenem irenem
153 reviews
Hagia Sophia- Church of Divine Wisdom. Feb 25, 2017
I remember my first visit to this building. I was visiting my boyfriend, later husband, and he was at work, so I went sightseeing on my own. The area around Hagia Sophia, or Ayasofya as the Turks call it, is very hassley, because it is filled with carpet salesmen who keep trying to drag you off to their shops. One of these salesmen attached himself to me and I could not get rid of him. Part of the reason for going inside Hagia Sophia was

simply to get away from him and even then he kept calling to me: "I'll wait for you just outside. Don't worry, I'll wait for you. " I spent much of my visit working out how to get out of the building without encountering him again.

Hagia Sophia means Church of the Divine Wisdom. It is located in the Sultan Ahmet area of Istanbul between Topkapi Palace and Sultan Ahmet Mosque.

Hagia Sophia was built in the year 537. From that date until 1453, it was mainly used as the Eastern Orthodox Cathedral and as the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The only exception to this was between 1204 and 1261 during the fourth crusade when the cathedral was ransacked and converted into a Catholic Church by Enrico Dandolo, the Doge of Venice. Many of the cathedral's relics were stolen and dispersed to churches in other parts of Europe at this time. After the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453 Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque and remained a mosque until 1931. In 1935 it was secularized and opened as a museum. Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

Hagia Sophia was originally built as a church between 532 and 537 during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. It was located on the site of two earlier Christian churches. It was designed by two Greek scientists. One of these was Isidore of Miletus, a physicist, and the other was Anthemius of Tralles, a

mathematician. The building is an impressive piece of engineering with its massive dome. This dome has, however, collapsed several times during major earthquakes and has frequently had to be rebuilt.

The original church contained a collection of important holy relics and a 15 metre high silver iconostasis.

In 1453, when Mehmet the Conqueror seized the city, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque. The cathedral's bells, altar, iconostasis, sacrificial vessels and other relics were taken away. The mosaics depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Christian saints and angels were removed or plastered over. Islamic features, for example, the mihrab - which shows the direction of Mecca, minbar - pulpit, and four minarets, were added.

Until 1616 when the construction of the nearby Sultan Ahmed Mosque was complete Hagia Sophia was the most important mosque in Istanbul.

Due to the plastering over of the inside of the church when it was converted into a mosque, the inside of Hagia Sophia is plainer than you might expect. There are, however, still some frescoes on display. There are also several gigantic circular disks on display. These are inscribed with the names of Allah, the Prophet

Muhammad, the first four caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, and the two grandchildren of Mohammed: Hassan and Hussain. They were created by the calligrapher Kazasker Mustafa Izzet Effendi who lived from 1801 to 1877.
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
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m_nazar m_nazar
5 reviews
Hagia Sophia Feb 12, 2015
Previously the Church, then the Mosque and now a Museum; Hagia Sophia embodies in itself the grandeur of both the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire. The place was still undergoing renovations when I visited it back in 29-Dec-2013. The entrance ticket was around 30 Turkish Lira - roughly 12 USD. It has beautiful mosaics from the Byzantine Empire times, and calligraphy from Ottoman Empire times. The place is just opposite the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque). The nearest Tram stop is "Sultan Ahmet". The name of the stop itself is "Sultan Ahmet".
Main entrance
Main entrance
Main gate to enter inside
First left after entrance
alectrevor says:
Brings back memories of my visit, Thanks Alec.
Posted on: Feb 24, 2017
spocklogic spocklog…
325 reviews
Church of the Holy Wisdom of God Feb 12, 2011
Hagia Sophia was an Eastern Orthodox Basilica (562-1204, 1261-1453), a Roman Catholic Cathedral (1204-1261), a Mosque (1453-1931), and now a museum (since 1935). The name comes from the Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, "Holy Wisdom"; Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia; Turkish: Aya Sofya. Its full name is "Church of the Holy Wisdom of God". One might also call it "Museum of the Tourist Hordes", as it is a heavily visited tourist attraction in Istanbul. Since it is no longer a mosque, it can be visited anytime during opening hours, even during the "call to prayer" times.

Hagia Sophia was designed by Isidore of Miletus & Anthemius of Tralles under the Roman Emperor Justinian I in the 6th Century. In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who subsequently ordered the building converted into a mosque. For almost 500 years, being the principal mosque of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia served as a model for many Ottoman mosques, such as Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque). It was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral in Spain was completed in 1520.

Famous for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture." The large leather wrapped wooden calligraphic roundels hung in the interior were added later (1847-1849), designed by the calligrapher Kazasker İzzed Effendi (1801–1877). Each roundel is 7.5 m wide. The names depicted on the eight roundels are: Allah and Muhammad; the first four Caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali (at the four corners of the dome); and the two grandsons of Mohammed, Hasan and Husayn (in the nave). The large chandeliers hanging from the dome were added in Ottoman times and held candlesticks or oil lamps for lighting before the days of electricity.

This is a not to be missed tourist attraction in Istanbul. A phenomenal structure steeped in history, Hagia Sophia is a fascinating place to spend a couple of hours roaming around and marveling at the stunning achievement of architecture & art. It's a feast for the eyes in structure, details and colors and mere photo do not really do it justice. It is, however, an extremely photogenic place. Relatively low cost entrance fee. Closed on Mondays. No particular dress code since it is no longer a mosque and technically a museum, but best to be respectful and wear sensible clothing, nothing too provocative or revealing.
Hagia Sophia
Tourist Hordes
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
4 / 4 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
spocklogic says:
Thank you, Hasan, and Hagia Sophia is fairly photogenic, which helps the photographer :)
Posted on: Jan 10, 2017
cimtech says:
Excellent pictures!
Posted on: Jan 10, 2017
spocklogic says:
NatGeo did one of their Megastructures episodes on this place back in 2012. Very good and worth watching. Hagia Sophia was the largest cathedral in the world for a thousand years. An architectural wonder indeed!
Posted on: Jan 09, 2017
JRube51 JRube51
3 reviews
Amazing, must visit site! May 31, 2011
This is another site that is a must see! The architecture is amazing! Currently they are in the process of restoring it, but it is still worth seeing. If I recall, it was 20 lira to go in at the time and there are no discounts available to foreign visitors (Summer 2010).
KevTrav KevTrav
3 reviews
Awe-inspiring May 09, 2011
A little steep for its entrance fees but it's still worth the sight. The moment I entered the doors of the museum, I knew instantly it would be something I will remember for life.

It's one of the most beautiful building in the world. Amazing architecture, brilliant structural engineering/design, and rich heritage all packed into this grand building. Go for it!
Kicius777 Kicius777
2 reviews
Amazing May 03, 2011
Istanbul has so much to offer, but Hagia Sophia is my favorite. Make sure to visit it when you are in Turkey. Walk toward the blue Mosque and you will have the best view of this amazing building. Hopefully, you will be in season when water fountains are on :)
Coelho Coelho
3 reviews
Landscape Poetry Mar 09, 2011
One word. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. The landscape and architecture of this place is truly splendid. Definitely a tourist place. Your trip to Istanbul is never complete without visiting Hagia Sophia :)
michalSerafin michalSe…
1 reviews
Great Place May 16, 2011
Hagia Sophia is a greta place , I do recommend it to everybody interesting in history and culture . I went there in a morning before crowds of travelers roll in :) , I don,t remember how much was the entrance fee but kind of expensive as for a Turkish prices , but yeah definitely worth visit ! ,Magic place !
0 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
realrv6 realrv6
63 reviews
Islam and Christianity at the same place. Oct 07, 2010
Hagia Sophia is probably the most famous example of Byzantine architecture in the World. It was built as a cathedral, then it became a mosque and today it is a museum.

The edifice was built by Constantine. He wanted to make it the cathedral of his new capital.

It is located next to the Blue Mosque in the Sultan Ahmet Square.

It is a huge building. Its cupola was the biggest in the world for many years. After the ottoman conquest, the cupola served as an example for the new built mosques worldwide.

It is very beautiful from outside. Its red color make it very particular, but from inside it is really unique.

I could see signs of the two biggest monotheistic religions at the same place. It is spectacular.

The Quran scriptures next to the Christian icons.
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Chokk Chokk
1733 reviews
Awesome Oct 05, 2008
I must say to this day that few building had larger impact on me than Haghia Sophia which for me was the main goal of my trip to Istanbul besides visiting this glorious city for the first time.

What was most striking to me, was the size and the sense that I was just one of millions of souls that had walked in to this staggering building of the last 1500 years. I was almost stunning by the thought that something so big and beautiful still was standing after all this time.

When I looked at the stones on the floor and the stairs they were all rounded by the millions of feet walking on them and only that told a small part of this fabulous building. Picturing how this building most have been perceived 1500 years ago where there was nothing like it was almost mind blowing. Well, even today there is nothing like it.

Walking inside the building filled me with history and pictures of the tales of 1500 years and I felt privileged to be there and finally to see this place. I was taken by the size of the dome and trying to imagine how they were able to construct something of this magnitude and beauty 1500 years ago.

The church is massive and impressing almost 1500 years old and for almost 500 years the principal mosque of Istanbul. When the church was completed in 537 AD, the Haghia Sophia was the largest church in the world, and Constantinople (Istanbul) was the world's largest city and today it is the 4th largest church building in the world. I still picture the buildings of Denmark from than time and we were just farmers living in wooden houses.

Haghia Sophia is a former patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, now a museum, it is famous in particular for its massive dome, and it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. It was the largest cathedral ever built in the world for nearly a thousand years, until the completion of the Seville Cathedral in 1520.

The current building was originally constructed as a church between A.D. 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site; the previous two had both been destroyed by riots. It was designed by two architects, Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles.

The Church contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 50 foot (15 m) silver iconostasis. It was the patriarchal church of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the religious focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly 1000 years.

In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into the Mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features; such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside, were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the Republic of Turkey.

For almost 500 years the principal mosque of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia served as a model for many of the Ottoman mosques such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque of Istanbul), the Şehzade Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, and the Rüstem Pasha Mosque.

The building's central interior part measures 100 meters long and 70 meters wide (interior dimensions of the central praying hall), and is capped by a magnificent dome with a diameter of 31.87 meters and an interior height of 55.60 m.

The original dome was completed in 537 AD. 25 years later, in 562 AD, it was replaced by the current dome which is 6.25 m taller, giving the church its current interior height of 55.60 m. The dome is supported by semidomes acting as buttresses and the interior features coloured marble colonnades supported by columns topped with elaborately carved capitals.

I felt good that a building like this had survived so long. This place was something special to me. I stayed in there until they closed walking every corner and just sucking in history.
Just outside Hagia Sophia
Inside Hagia Sophia
Inside Hagia Sophia
Inside Hagia Sophia
3 / 3 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Chokk says:
Lucky man
Posted on: Jan 30, 2011
bernard69 says:
Thanks for sharing this great review Christian that brings back to me good memories of a time where I was "rich" and could afford its visit with a private guide:)
Posted on: Jan 30, 2011
Eric Eric
408 reviews
A bit of a let down Dec 25, 2008
We visited the Hagia Sophia right after the Blue Mosque, and to be honest it was a little bit of a let down, especially given the entrance fee (which I believe was around 20YTL, and has probably even increased by now).

While the scale of the building once you are inside is quite impressive, it doesn't quite blow you away with its magnificence. It's rather plainly adorned, and while we were there there was lots of scaffolding from construction everywhere, which didn't add to the allure.

In the upstairs area there was a gallery that, inexplicably, showed pictures of the inside of the Hagia Sophia. Also, instead of the original mural or painting, they would just show a picture of the mural or painting.

If you are on a budget, or not a history buff, I would just recommend walking around on the outside of the Hagia Sophia, and exploring the inside of the Blue Mosque, which is nearby and free.
Exterior of the Hagia Sophia
Inside, in the upstairs "gallery"
nurbanu says:
Yes it is true. The enter to H. Sofia is also expensive for turkish citizens. Therefore i decided to get museum cart, the price is 20 tur.lira and i can visit many historical places around Turkey with it during one year. Unfortunetly it is issued only to citizens of Turkey :(.
Posted on: Jul 30, 2009
fransglobal says:
I am inclined to agree.
Posted on: Jul 30, 2009
hendrend hendrend
3 reviews
A Church, a Mosque and now a Museum Dec 13, 2008
Hagia Sophia is an amazing museum located in the Sultan Ahmet Parkı area off the Sultanahmet‎ tram. It was once a church, that became a Mosque and is now a must see Museum. It is one of the most interesting spots of Istanbul if you enjoy art, architecture and history. The museum is open everyday, except Monday and is very cheap with an entrance fee of 20 TL (~9 Euro) including visit to the upper gallery floor. Visiting hours are from 9:30 to 16:30. At the entrance, there will be people who want to guide you through the museum. DO NOT BUY THEM!!! You can spend less on Rick Steves' Istanbul travel guide book (HIGHLY RECOMMEND) and it will give you a step by step guide to the whole museum.
tj1777 tj1777
379 reviews
Hagia Sofia Jun 23, 2007
In the centre of Istanbul you will find a mosque which looks a bit different - it is the Aya Sofia Mosque. The reason it looks a bit different is it was not really constructed to be a mosque. It predates the time of the Ottoman conquerors by several centuries - and it used to serve as the main church of the Byzantine Empire.

The first church built at the spot of the current Aya Sofia were built in 360 shortly after Constantin the Great had transformed the Roman empire into a Christian empire. Then you needed a church in the capital city of the eastern Roman Empire and you built the first church. Later this church was replaced by another church and in 532 a third church which is the present day Aya Sofia.

This church served as the main church of Constantinople until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. After the fall of the last Christian bastion in this part of the world the old church were converted into a mosque. And the Aya Sofia has served as one of the main mosque of Constantinople and Istanbul ever since this.

Today you can go a visit the mosque and see a small museum with exhibitions.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy

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