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Hagia Sophia's history | Consecration, early years, & transformations through the ages

Dating back to the year 537 AD, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is a true masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, that has survived the test of time. It is known for its Grand Central Dome, intricate mosaics, and delicate stonework. Hagia Sophia's history spans 1500 years. Once a church, then a museum, and now a mosque, the monument has witnessed the rise and fall of several dynasties. It is a symbol of the diverse blending of Eastern and Western cultures in Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia's timeline

537 AD: Emperor Constantius II established Hagia Sophia as an Eastern Orthodox Church at the peak of Byzantine rule in Turkey.

537 AD to 1453: The Hagia Sophia, under the Byzantines, served as a church until Constantinople fell to the Ottomans.

1453 to 1922: Several architectural modifications were carried out throughout the years Hagia Sophia served as a Mosque.

1934: The Turkish government under the Presidency of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk decided to establish Hagia Sophia as a Museum to preserve its rich history, all of it without being confined to one religion or section of people.

1934 to 2020: The Hagia Sophia Museum attracted attention from all over the world. New design elements were added and mosaics were restored.

2020: The Hagia Sophia Museum was once again declared to be a Mosque under Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Hagia Sophia history explained

Hagia Sophia Established

Hagia Sophia Church established

537 AD
The first Hagia Eirene Church, built during the reign of Constantius II, was much smaller. A majority of the current structure of Hagia Sophia was built under Emperor Justinian I after the former church was destroyed in 532 CE. 

Hagia Sophia as a Church
Hagia Sophia as a Mosque
Hagia Sophia Declared to be a museum

Hagia Sophia declared to be a museum

1934
In 1935, Ataturk, as the founder and President of Turkey, declared that the Hagia Sophia would be converted into a museum. Large-scale renovation efforts were undertaken, where floor carpets were replaced, new design elements were added and mosaics were restored. 

Hagia Sophia as a museum

Hagia Sophia as a museum

1934 to 2020
Conservationists and historians have always drawn insights from its mosaics to delve deeper into its rich history. The Hagia Sophia was declared a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Historic Areas of Istanbul in 1985.

Hagia Sophia as a Mosque

Hagia Sophia as a mosque

2020
In 2020, the Hagia Sophia Museum was once again declared to be a Mosque. In the present day, the Hagia Sophia has maintained its elegance and stands as a symbol of peaceful coexistence between two religions at the heart of Sultanahmet Square. 

Construction of the Hagia Sophia

Construction of the Hagia Sophia

Architecture of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia Architecture

Hagia Sophia today

Hagia Sophia Today



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Hagia Sophia Skip-the-Line Tickets
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Hagia Sophia Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Tickets
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Combo: Basilica Cistern + Blue Mosque + Hagia Sophia Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Tickets
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Istanbul Super Combo: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia & Basilica Cistern Entry Tickets with Audio Guide
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Combo Guided Tours with Entry Tickets: Hagia Sophia + Topkapi Palace or Basilica Cistern
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Combo: Topkapi Palace + Hagia Sophia + Blue Mosque Guided Tours with Skip-the-Line Tickets
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Istanbul Top Museums 3-Day Pass: Guided Tour with Entry Tickets
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Frequently asked questions about Hagia Sophia's history

How old is Hagia Sophia?

The Hagia Sophia spans over 1500 years. It was established as an Eastern Orthodox Church during the Byzantine era.

Why is Hagia Sophia famous?

The Hagia Sophia attracts attention from all over the world due to its impressive Grand Central Dome and intricate mosaics. It is an enduring symbol of Turkey's changing powers and Eastern-Western cultural heritage.

Where is Hagia Sophia?

Hagia Sophia is situated in Sultanahmet Square, near the Blue Mosque. The address is Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih İstanbul, Turkey.

What is the architectural style of the Hagia Sophia?

Hagia Sophia's architecture dates to the Byzantine era. Given its past as an Orthodox Church to a Mosque to a Museum, and now a Mosque again, the structure retains its previous influences. The most distinct feature of Hagia Sophia is its Grand Dome, which rises to a height of above 180 feet.

How much does it cost to visit the Hagia Sophia?

Depending on the kind of Hagia Sophia ticket you choose, it can cost between €31 to €36. Depending on the ticket you choose, you can skip ahead of long lines and enjoy historian-guided tours with skip-the-line entry access. The combo tickets will help you save money, as they range from around €59 and cover many more attractions.

Are there guided tours explaining the history of the Hagia Sophia?

Yes, you can book Hagia Sophia guided tours, where an experienced tour guide will take you through the minarets, mosaics, and artifacts inside the Mosque. You can also skip ahead of long lines at the venue if you choose historian-guided tours with skip-the-line entry.

Is it worth visiting the Hagia Sophia?

Yes, there are many reasons why you should add Hagia Sophia to your bucket list. It is a perfect example of the beauty and grandeur of Byzantine architecture. The Hagia Sophia is also a symbol of the city of Istanbul and a reminder of the blending of Eastern and Western cultures.