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Hagia Sophia

About Hagia Sophia

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What people say

"Standing majestically as a testament to both Byzantine and Ottoman eras, the Ayasofya Camii (Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque) is Istanbul's crown jewel. Construction began in 532 AD under the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, and upon completion in 537 AD, it became the largest church in the world for nearly a thousand years. Its revolutionary dome design and the use of light pouring through massive windows created an awe-inspiring space, solidifying its place as a architectural marvel. The Hagia Sophia served as the heart of the Orthodox Church for centuries, witnessing historical events like the coronation of Byzantine emperors. However, with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the building entered a new chapter. Sultan Mehmed II converted the church into a mosque, adding minarets and transforming the interior with Islamic calligraphy and ornaments. For centuries, the Ayasofya Camii served as the principal mosque of the Ottoman Empire, a symbol of their power and faith. The Ottomans also made significant architectural contributions, reinforcing the structure and adding features that blended harmoniously with the Byzantine design. In 1931, the building was secularized and turned into a museum, allowing visitors to marvel at its unique blend of Christian and Islamic art and architecture. Then, in a controversial move in 2020, the Ayasofya's status was reverted back into a mosque. Today, the Ayasofya Camii remains a powerful symbol of Istanbul's complex history. It's a place where visitors can delve into the rich tapestry of Byzantine and Ottoman eras, a true architectural masterpiece that continues to captivate hearts across the globe."
"The entry is free for all travelers & tourists but as Hagia Sophia is no longer a museum but was converted to a mosque in 2020, the museum and larger portions of the mosque is not accessible to the tourists anymore. The mosque is also closed during prayer hours. Hagia Sophia is an erstwhile Orthodox Church/Cathedral which lived through a few conversions from church to cathedral during the crusade ages, to mosque during Ottoman conquest by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453, to museum in 1935 on establishment of the secular Republic of Turkey to mosque again in 2020. As it is a religious place of worship, men & women are instructed to wear appropriate clothing before entering the mosque. Women are advised to cover their heads with a scarf or abaya or jacket hoodie & cover their hands & legs. Ayasofya Camii is the epitome of Byzantine architecture where one can still see the iconograp like the mosaic depictions of Jesus, Mary, Christian saints & angels were removed or plastered over during Ottoman conquest in 1453. It took us about 1.5-2 hours to properly see, visualize & be awed at the interior architectural marvel of Ayasofya. I was disappointed when I realised that the 1st floor of Ayasofya was open to the public till 2020 before it got converted to a mosque."
"You can still find the things that still remind you that it’s been a Cristian Cathedral, they haven’t removed anything from the times when it was a basilica, just added things to make it usable for Muslims. It’s easy to spend here a lot of time, starting from the outdoor area of Hagia Sophia and ending with a peaceful time inside while sitting and enjoying the peace and a few tourists all around you. The little line to get in is worth it, but don’t stand in the line if it’s all through the square, just go somewhere else and come back later. If You’re not ready to stand there and wait, it’s better to visit in the afternoon or on weekdays, but if You want to be the first to enter You have to go in the morning around 8 – 8.30 am, sometimes You’ll need to wait in line till the opening time at around 9 am, they usually open it for visitors at 9 am, sometimes 10 am, but sometimes earlier, no one knows…"

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