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Hagia SofiaTop 10

The Hagia Sofia is an important sacred building with an eventful history. A visit to the museum is a must in Istanbul.

Important building of late antiquity

In the immediate vicinity of the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sofia in the Sultanahmet district. The building once served as a Byzantine place of worship, later as a mosque and is now a museum. The church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Hagia Sofia is considered one of the most important buildings of late antiquity. Emperor Constantine I had a church built on the site in what was once Constantinople around the year 325. During an uprising the building was destroyed in 532. Immediately afterwards, a new and mighty church was built, the form of which, according to history, had appeared to Emperor Justinian I in a dream. Supposedly, the shape of the building goes back to an invisible octagram. In ancient times, it was thought that the universe was perfectly arranged according to a certain number system.

This was also taken into account in the construction of the church. Among others, the mathematician Isidore of Miletus was involved in the construction. Tens of thousands of workers completed the project within six years. In 537, the shell of the building was consecrated. After that, the Hagia Sofia was used for all official acts of state. Almost all Byzantine emperors were crowned in the church. After the Ottoman conquest, the Hagia Sofia became a mosque. In 1453, the church was sacked by the conquerors and the new sultan consecrated the place of worship as a mosque. In the following years, all Christian relics were removed and replaced with Muslim ones. Crosses were replaced with crescents. In addition, a minaret was erected outside the building.

Conversion into a museum

In 1934, it was decided to turn the mosque into a museum and make the entire history of the impressive structure accessible to visitors. The mighty building is one of the largest sacred buildings in the world. Especially worth seeing are the numerous mosaics inside the church. The huge main room of the church is dominated by a massive dome with a height of about 56 meters.

The Hagia Sofia is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday between 9.30 am and 4.30 pm. The entrance fee is 12 euros.

Personal tip

The Hagia Sofia is one of the highlights of Istanbul, along with the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace. Be sure to go up to the first floor as well.

More Info

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