Hagia Sophia Mosque
Hagia Sophia Mosque
4.5
Historic Sites • Architectural Buildings • Religious Sites
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9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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About
This architectural marvel displays 30 million gold tiles throughout its interior, and a wide, flat dome which was a bold engineering feat at the time it was constructed in the 6th century.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: Sultanahmet
With so many unmissable attractions within a mere stroll of each other – and all set around the site of an ancient Byzantine hippodrome – Sultanahmet is an overwhelmingly popular tourist destination, and a prime location for visitors to be wowed on a truly epic scale. Beyond the wonders of the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and more, this relatively small area of Istanbul somehow manages to retain an air of peace and calm. It offers visitors a significantly less celebrated but nonetheless pleasant network of quaint lanes and side streets, majestic panoramas of the Bosphorus, and an impressive assortment of accommodation options for all budgets and tastes.
See what other travelers are saying
  • Amjschmitz
    Chicago, Illinois129 contributions
    Go at sunrise; you won’t regret it
    This was the first mosque I’ve ever been in. I had the added benefit of getting to go in just after sunrise, before the crowds showed up. I was inside with roughly a dozen other people or less. I highly recommend trying for that experience—I was up anyway because I could not sleep due to the time change I guess, as it was my first morning in Turkey. But that morning was one of my favorite memories of the whole trip; getting to explore the area at sunrise when it’s so calm and quiet. This included going into the Hagia Sofia. It was very quiet and peaceful, and with fewer people it seems so much grander. You don’t feel compelled to move along or get out of anyones way, either. Compare that to when I went later with other people who weren’t with me the first time: hundreds of people, shoulder to shoulder, a bit of a madhouse. Sure the structure looked the same but the experience was completely different. I don’t know what the true hours of operation are. I didn’t think it opened so early, so I was surprised to see someone exiting as I wandered around that morning just minutes after sunrise. If it’s a regular thing, definitely go then. No lines, no crowds, and that includes the outside, too, so great for taking photos without masses of people who come later in the way. As for the building itself, I enjoyed the inside but was more impressed with the exterior. Either way, why go all the way to Istanbul and NOT go inside the Hagia Sofia? It won’t disappoint but don’t expect anything amazing. It’s cool and grand but the experience is what you’ll remember so that’s why I say go as early as possible. I’ve heard that there is an upstairs portion but I didn’t go up there or even see a way to do that. I stayed in the main level, wandered about, and was satisfied with 15 minutes. It was then that the few of us there were ushered out, presumably for prayer time prep. When I went again with the crowds, it was during another prayer time I think around 7pm. Tourists were let inside, but you could only go about 1/3rd of the way inside. There were gates up and only men could go beyond that. Not just Muslim men, but any men were allowed through. At the very front then were a small group of Muslim men praying. Photos are allowed here, though obviously you shouldn’t photograph people praying. You need to remove shoes, and women need head coverings. My wife just used the hoodie on her jacket and security seemed fine with it, though maybe she got away with something.
    Traveled as a couple
    Written October 14, 2022
  • M & A
    Osnabrück, Germany9 contributions
    Mesmerizing experience, queue up at 8:30am
    Its recommended to visit Hagia Sophia mid week and start queuing up at around 8:30 am. Then you will be one of the first ones to enter the Hagia Sophia at 10 am. If you come later, the queue will be already very long and unfortunately many tour guides or random people try to cut the line. There is no entrance fee when entering Hagia Sophia and you can leave your shoes in one of the boxes before entering the main hall, but make sure to remember your number, otherwise it might be difficult to find your shoes again. Overall, a must see attraction in Istanbul and unforgettable experience. Some of the picture mural on the ceiling have not been totally covered yet, since it was converted from a museum/church to a mosquee again. I loved seeing the two religions merged into the ceilings and walls.
    Written December 29, 2022
  • Winsome66
    Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia288 contributions
    The Church of Divine Wisdom
    The Hagia Sophia was no doubt a Byzantine architectural masterpiece of its time. It represented the splendor and grandeur of the Byzantium Empire. For every visitor to Istanbul, this should be top priority in terms of tourist sites to experience. It was originally referred to as a place of 'Holy Wisdom' or 'Divine Wisdom'. If you are visiting during the tourist peak season, there will be long lines of people waiting to enter the building. I suggest visiting as early as possible. And if its during a time of prayer for Muslims, you will be required to wait until the prayer has ended. Entrance to the Hagia Sophia is free. Please take note of the fact that the Hagia Sophia is now a mosque, a holy place for Muslims and where they observe prayer times throughout the day. It is very important to remember that all females/women/young girls etc must cover their heads with a scarf. Please do not forget to carry one with you. Men are expected to wear long pants instead of shorts. When you enter the building, you are required to take off your shoes. You may carry them with you or store them in the shoe shelves provided. I recommend that women dress with modesty and respectfully when visiting the Hagia Sophia as it is a holy place of worship for Muslims, Also, there are separate places for men and women inside, so be aware of this as well. For me, it was a beautiful experience, one of those WOW moments in my life! It is amazing to see this structure, or what has survived many centuries later. This was the pride and glory of the Byzantine Empire and it was such a privilege to visit this world heritage site and I imagined that the original interior to be nothing but magnificent, grand and glorious which encouraged many Christian pilgrims to visit centuries ago, reverenced by Orthodox Christian prayer and worship.
    Written June 14, 2022
These reviews are the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor checks reviews for fraud.
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BnMadven
New York City, NY552 contributions
Nov 2022
No trip to Istanbul could be complete without visiting the Hagia Sofia. The rich history alone is compelling enough to go and see. My partner and I had a very long layover in Istanbul, so we headed into the city from Istanbul Airport to do some sightseeing. The first site on our list was the Hagia Sofia. As we were there on a Thursday morning, the line was relatively manageable, though we did have to wait longer than expected as some large tour groups had gone in before we did and security wanted to maintain some crowd control. As it has returned to being a working mosque, no admission fee was charged. Women were required to cover their heads with a headscarf and shoes had to be removed before stepping onto the green carpet. Nothing can prepare you for the breathtaking sight once you walk inside. Both my partner and I were well versed enough in history to forgo having a guide, but it helps to understand the history of the site. However, if you eavesdrop, you will get an explanation for why cloth panels obscure certain sights within the space itself (a return to being a working mosque instead of the museum it was previously required the covering of Christian images and depictions of the human form). Also disappointingly, the 2nd floor galleries are no longer open, despite a few items of interest we had wanted to see there. Regardless, this is still a must-see. If possible, come on a weekday morning (we passed by the area on a weekend afternoon and the line to enter had doubled back on itself).
Written December 7, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Anish S
Chicago, IL758 contributions
May 2022
beautiful historical monument. I highly recommend you visit Hagia with a tour guide or at least an audio tour. There are a lot of details that need to be explained, not something you would be able to notice on your own. It's also a very busy place as it's (for obv reasons) one of the most visited places. Note, you do have to take your shoes off to go inside (which is carpeted). I recommend taking your shoes off and carrying them inside; there are cubbies inside where you can put your shoes. This is to avoid an unfortunate incident where someone takes your shoes by accident from outside (where there are a lot of shoes and crowd). Also note that guys must wear full pants (no shorts) and girls must cover their head as well as their shoulders (no sleeveless)
Written June 1, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Tish
Nairobi, Kenya106 contributions
Mar 2022
We visited yesterday and there is a lot of renovation happening around, so large cisterns not open, and "Blue" Mosque basically closed. Hagia Sophia is not a museum at the moment, so it is free to enter, and even possible during prayer times, but then you can only see from the back. We entered through the side door (usually the exit) also because of current arrangements.
Highly recommend a tour guide! The guy we used was very knowledgeable and took a lot of time with us. A bit costly (500TL), but was totally worth it to hear so much of the history, and be shown all the details - from wood around doors, to symbolic details inside that you would not have noticed or understood on your own.
The beautiful white marble floor is covered in a large carpet right now to protect it, and helped our very cold feet! Be aware that of course women must cover up to enter (legs covered to below knees, and scarf over hair). If you forget, there are inexpensive paper-like covers you can purchase. Our guide mentioned he thought the mosque will be returned to a museum, which will then show the floor again.
Written March 22, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Michael P
6 contributions
Oct 2022
This is still a place of worship so is prone to closures regardless of how long you waited in line or have been inside. You should go with a guide that can hopefully get you inside around the line. The guides can usually get you ahead of the lines for museums or non-religious but not mosques. In our case our guide was able to get us in. The lines are long so be prepared to wait. It is good to have someone with you to tell you about the inside and some of the highlights. The smaller the group the better - we, my wife and I, were alone with the guide so it was easy to hear her and interact with her while inside. With the info from our guide, walking around taking pictures, and being on our own - we needed only about 30 minutes inside. You can only use the bottom floor as it is no longer a museum but an active mosque.
Written November 6, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sarah O
Mexico, MO28 contributions
Jun 2022 • Couples
The Hagia Sophia is an amazing site to see because it is so old and beautiful. We decided to go without a guide. The line looked very long when we got in around 11:30. We thought it would take a long time but it only took 15 minutes. Make sure your entire party wears pants and the women have a head covering. They have items they will give you to cover up if you choose not to bring them, but that is another line you have to wait in. When you go in you will take off your shoes so you may feel more comfortable wearing socks. When I went in, I was astonished at the beauty of this mosque. It is absolutely stunning. There will be A LOT of people. I don’t know if you could even go at a time when there aren’t. Personally it didn’t ruin it for me because I was expecting it. I am sure you would learn a lot from a tour guide (there are some you can book on demand outside that speak several different languages), but we enjoyed just looking at the beautiful architecture.
Written June 20, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

TravelDreams
Portland, OR297 contributions
Jun 2022 • Solo
It is an amazing building, everyone agrees. In my 2 weeks in Istanbul it consistently opened at 10 am and always had long line most of morning. I came twice and it seems the later in the afternoon the better (maybe closes at 630).
So, accessibility. The entrance all had ramps until the main door into the church where shoes are removed. Here, I found no chairs to sit to take off shoes, and eventually I sat on the doorstep as I wear braces on my shoes and it’s difficult without them. Inside it is flat carpet but crowded so it’s hard to get around- lots of children running around playing. I’ve heard you can get a wheelchair but must transfer at the door- I didn’t have someone with me to try this.
The upstairs appears to be permanently closed now.
I only wish this was a musuem, maybe have a separate place for prayers. The no shoes thing is such a bother for some of us, plus the whole place just smells like dirty feet now.
Written June 15, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Robbie_Doha
Doha, Qatar156 contributions
Aug 2022 • Solo
Nothing to add to describe this masterpiece; I just wanted to share some tips from my recent trip to Istanbul( August, high season) that would save other travellers time & money:

1) The entrance to the Hagia Sophia is free. However, you can opt for a guided tour if you prefer. Price is negotiated directly with the guide and this would also allow to skip the queue.
2) The queue, at the opening time, was already masssive, so try to get there way earlier. It will save you a lot of time.
3) Women must cover their head with a scarf and guys are required to cover their legs if they are wearing shorts. It is possible to buy some items to cover up inside the courtyard after the security screening( prices are very cheap), but they only accept cash.
4) Visit the Hagia Sophia during the evening. There was literally no queue to get in.
Written August 7, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Nkechi N
Silver Spring, MD696 contributions
May 2022
I have wanted to visit the Hagia Sophia for years and finally did so as part of a guided tour of Istanbul. The mosque is simply amazing with a wealth of history, unique architecture and lots of hidden gems.

Highly recommend a guided tour to explain the 1500 year history of the site and point out all it's unique features. Also recommend going first thing in the morning between 9-10:30am as they close the gates if the mosque gets too crowded.

Also women need to bring their own headscarf - and shorts above the knee are not permitted by men or women.
Written May 31, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

ec1oud
Oslo, Norway66 contributions
Jul 2022
Of course if you are a tourist in Istanbul, you have to visit here. But the line for admission was a bit long, you have to go through a metal detector security check, and there is a dress code: nothing sleeveless, and if you are a woman, hem lines below the knees and covered head (so wear a long dress and bring a head scarf). If they don't like what you're wearing, you can buy a navy-colored paper robe to cover it up. You have to take off your shoes in the narthex: either leave them in the provided "lockers" (not secure, not sure if it matters) or bring a bag to carry them. But if you haven't seen it and care at all about historic buildings, it's worthwhile. Inside, you are free to walk around the public part of the ground floor, and look at everything for as long as you like. Other parts are reserved for prayer, because this is an active mosque again now.
Written August 13, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Merrowmum
Guildford, UK1,015 contributions
May 2022
This is just an incredible place! It's rich and varied history is so fascinating in itself, and then the way the original church has been built upon, yet still lies underneath, is just beautiful. You can spend ages just wandering around taking in the details of architecture and decoration and pondering their meaning. Try to get here as it opens so that you get some sense of its space before it is filled by crowds (we queued for about 20 mins before opening time and were quite near the front). If you can, either go with a guide or read up on it beforehand to help you interpret what you see and to spot specific interesting, often stunning details.
Written June 12, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Hagia Sophia Mosque, Istanbul

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