Hagia Sophia is a very popular tourist attraction in Turkey and receives a lot of tourists so it’s best to reach early as ticket lines can be very long. It was built as Turkey’s first mosque and has been a church, a mosque and a museum in its rich history. The architecture of the place is very unusual and gives the illusion of a floating roof something that remains a marvel to date. Read below to get a detailed overview of Hagia Sophia.
Places to See
Hagia Sophia is known for its rich architecture and the first spot on your list should be the Imperial door which was once reserved only for royalty. The interior is very beautiful with a domed ceiling and owes a lot to the emperor Constantine who converted it from a pagan temple to a church.
The dome is definitely the most defining feature of the building as it’s suspended by little supports giving the illusion of a floating roof. The entire building is actually built around the dome which is very unusual. Later converted into a mosque, it was opened to the public in 1935 as a museum.
The place is famed for its mosaics including a one of Empress Zoe. The Sultan’s lodge is another attraction which was used by the Sultan for offering prayers without being seen by the common public. The place is huge and you should ideally keep one full day aside to visit the museum properly. The marble columns and the northern balcony are some spots where you can spend some time at your leisure. The church contains a lot of relics and the most famous is the silver iconostasis. There are also many galleries with the Loge of the empress Sophia the most famous attraction.
The museum is open on all days except Sundays from 9 to 5. You should carry a good guidebook as there are very little textual representations inside. The nearest airport is Istanbul and you can take the metro to reach Hagia Sophia. It is best to book tickets online to avoid the large queues.
Hagia Sophia isn’t the only wonder located in the area and there is a wealth of architecture to explore in the vicinity. Little Hagia Sophia is very near to the main building and is a good point to start. Hagia Eirene is located in Topkapi Palace and is worth a visit.
Things to Do
Hagia Sophia itself will take a complete full day for you to explore the site properly since there is so much to see. If you get tired, head out and relish a quiet meal in the many cafes and restaurants that are located in the vicinity.
You can also head out to some of the sites that are located in the vicinity. There is also a popular market where you can purchase souvenirs and gifts. There are many hotels located in the area but book a spot early as the place is very crowded.