Hagia Sophia Mosque: Buy Tickets & Check Opening Hours

Guide to Hagia Sophia

No other building reflects the soul of Istanbul and its turbulent past like the world-famous Hagia Sophia.

Once the most powerful church of early Christianity and called the eighth wonder of the world, the iconic monument is one of the greatest structures in the world in terms of art and architectural history.

After serving as a museum for many years, Hagia Sophia can now be visited as a mosque. With its unique and fascinating architecture, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is and should be on every traveler's itinerary.

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know before your visit, including history, entrance, tickets and tours and opening hours.

Let’s start!

Entrance, Tickets & Tours to Hagia Sophia Mosque

Tickets options for the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

Here is the official website about Hagia Sophia, which includes all the information a tourist needs before visiting the monument!

our Pick
Hagia Sophia Tour in Istanbul

HAGIA SOPHIA TOUR WITH SKIP-THE-LINE

Buy your Hagia Sophia Tour online, enjoy the Highlights Tour and benefit of the Audio Guide App!

HAGIA SOPHIA TOUR WITH AUDIO GUIDE

Explore the History of the Hagia Sophia with a historian audio guide, learn about the history of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires.

our Pick

ISTANBUL COMBO TICKET & TOUR

Discover the 3 TOP attractions, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern

Hagia Sophia & Topkapi Palace Combo Tour

HAGIA SOPHIA & BLUE MOSQUE COMBO TOUR

Discover the most famous landmarks of Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque with this combo tour and enjoy the tours with local specialist.

  • Entrance: The area in Sultanahmet Square is now only open to Turkish citizens who come to pray. Other nationalities must use the "Visitors Area" entrance at the northeast corner of the building. Click here to read more about the new rules. Note: It can only be visited outside of prayer times. You can check the prayer times here.
  • Hagia Sophia Opening Hours: 
  • Winter Season: From 1 October to 1 April: 09:00 - 19:30
  • Summer Season: From 1 April - 1 October: 09:00 - 19:30
  • Closed Days: Open everyday
  • Hagia Sophia Ticket Price: 25 € if over 7 years  old
  • Tickets Options: All foreign visitors over 7 must now buy a ticket (25 €). We recommend the Istanbul Combo Ticket for the 3 Top tourist attractions: Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and Topkapi Palace. See here options of Hagia Sophia Tickets.
  • Is the Istanbul Museum Card valid on this site?  No, the Istanbul Museum Pass is not valid here.
  • Guided Tours: Those who want to learn the hidden details and stories about this magnificent monument would be well advised to join a tour with Audio guides app in different languages. Because there are no guided tours in Hagia Sophia anymore. You can buy audio guide instead. Get the most popular Hagia Sophia audio guided tours with a discount through the links above!
  • Travelers' Tips: With the City Passes from Istanbul Welcome Card, you can save time & money when visiting museums and attractions in Istanbul and have a better experience with the included guided tours, travel tips, and exclusive discounts. You can choose between the Deluxe CardPremium Card and Classic Card, as well as the Saver Combo Card, designed by travel experts to help you make the most of your travel experience in Istanbul.
Things to do at Hagia Sophia

Things to do at Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, considered by many to be Istanbul's greatest landmark, is one of the most important examples of Byzantine architecture. The church-turned-mosque-turned-museum-turned-mosque again, is particular famous for its unique interior, blending Christian and Muslim elements.

Located on the Historical Peninsula, Hagia Sophia is welcoming throngs of visitors every day. Although it has served as a mosque since 2020, it remains open for tourists and followers of other religions to visit.

According to desicion taken in 2024, foreign visitors cannot enter the prayer area on the first floor.

Important: From January 15, 2024, foreign visitors will only be able to enter Hagia Sophia on the second floor (gallery) and will now have to pay an entrance fee.

The new regulation aims to separate visitors who visit the mosque for worship from tourists. The aim is to avoid crowds at the entrances and allow tourists to visit the mosque without disturbing the service.

See below the Highlights you shouldn’t miss on your visit:

1. Exterior

Be sure to take time to explore the exterior of the landmark. One distinctive feature are of course the four minarets that were added during the Ottoman period.

You can start exploring this masterpiece in the garden. Here you can see some surprises that many visitors miss. If you take a closer look, you will discover archaeological findings, such as preserved parts of the first Hagia Sophia from the 5th century.

There is also a sundial and timekeepers used to calculate the prayer times, as well as a round shaped fountain dating back to 1740.

2. Mosaics

Inside the magnificent building, the ornate mosaics whose gold had not yet dulled attract the attention of all visitors.

In the vestibule of the building, there is an impressive mosaic panel depicting Mother Mary and the two Byzantine emperors Constantine and Justinian at her side. If you look closer, you can see that Constantine is holding a model of Constantinople and Justinian is holding a model of Hagia Sophia.

Another remarkable mosaic panel is located above the exit gate at the end of the corridor. It shows Emperor Leo VI kneeling before Christ, with Mother Mary and an archangel at his side.

However, the most stunning mosaics can be found in the main room. On the apses, you can see the mosaic of Mother Mary and Jesus dating from the 9th century, which makes it the oldest mosaic in the structure, as well as a mosaic depicting Archangel Gabriel.

3. Dome

The Hagia Sophia is most famous for its monumental dome. There is a central dome and two half-domes that that together bear the enormous structure. At the same time, the central dome is supported by four arches on four columns.

In the center of the dome is a verse from the Quran that reads, "God is the light of the world."

Standing under the impressive dome, one can best admire the magnificent interior, illuminated by the golden light of the numerous chandeliers. Soak up the mystical atmosphere of this masterpiece, which undoubtedly hides many stories and details.

4. Calligraphic Medallions

Another element that immediately catches the visitor's eye are the calligraphic medallions mounted high above. There are eight of these massive black panels in total, bearing in gold the names of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, the four caliphs and the two grandsons of Muhammad.

In fact, the calligraphic medallions were among the first additions made after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople and subsequently converted the Hagia Sophia Church into a mosque.

5. Library of Sultan Mahmud I

On the right side of Hagia Sophia lies the library of Sultan Mahmud I. The room, adorned with Iznik tiles and a baroque-style grid, is quite impressive. Although the books have been moved to another library, you can still see the signature of Sultan Mahmud I, who commissioned this addition, and a calligraphy with a quote from the Quran.

6. Mihrab

Worth seeing is the ornate Mihrab from 1840, the prayer niche facing Mecca. You can find it in the apse. It is framed by golden ornaments and calligraphic panels with verses from the Quran, as well as two giant candle sticks.

Near the Mihrab is the Muezzin’s Lodge, a rectangular marble lodge that serves the muezzins who make the calls for prayer.

7. Upper Galleries

The second floor of the Hagia Sophia was closed for visitors after the final restoration in 2020. But now, it is opened again. You can visit the second floor.

There are also the following points of interest:

  • The Empress Lodge
  • Viking Graffiti
  • Memorial Stone for Crusader Enrico
  • Deesis Mosaic from the 13th century
  • Mosaic Panel of the Imperial Couples from the 11th/ 12th century
  • Mosaic of Archangel Gabriel
Entrance, Tickets & Tours

What are the new rules for visiting Hagia Sophia?

  • Hagia Sophia is one of Istanbul's most popular tourist attractions. When it was converted back into a mosque, entry was free. 
  • According to the decision taken in 2024, there is now an entrance fee for foreign visitors. This is 25€
  • Most of the ground floor is now off limits to tourists and non-Muslims. This area is used for worship only and is open to Turkish citizens.
  • So, there are two entrances to the Hagia Sophia now. The one on Sultanahmet Square is for Turkish citizens visiting the worship area. All other visitors should use the "visitor area" entrance on the north-east corner of the building.
  • There is a new ticket office at the Sultan Ahmet III Fountain. All visitors over the age of 7 are now required to buy a ticket.

What to Consider before Visiting a Mosque?

  • Since Hagia Sophia is an active mosque, you should only visit it outside of prayer times. Some parts are closed to visitors, especially during Friday prayer at noon. Prayer times are 5 times a day. You can check the times here.
  • Remember that when entering a mosque, visitors must remove their shoes.
  • There is a dress code in Hagia Sophia. Knees, shoulders and upper arms must be covered. Women also cover their hair. If you forget to bring a headscarf, you can buy one at the entrance of Hagia Sophia.
  • Taking pictures is allowed, but don't take pictures of people praying. Also remember not to make too much noise and be respectful.
  • Entrance to Hagia Sophia Mosque is now 25€
How to get to Hagia Sophia

How to get to Hagia Sophia?

From Sultanahmet: Hagia Sophia is centrally located along the Sultanahmet Square. It is located opposite of the Blue Mosque.

From Taksim: Take the funicular F1 to Kabataş. At Kabataş Station, take the tram T1 and go 7 stops to Sultanahmet Station. From here, Hagia Sophia is just 3 minutes away.

Click here to get detailed information about how to get and the best way to get Hagia Sophia via this link!

The Hagia Sophia History Museum 

A really remarkable experience awaits you just 200 metres from the Hagia Sophia, in a lovely brick edifice!

In addition to your visit to the Hagia Sophia, enjoy the building's history in 3D with sound effects. Walk in the footsteps of the past, both aesthetically and audibly, and let yourself be carried away into an adventure-filled universe!

You will walk through numerous rooms throughout this 30-minute 3D tour. Each one reflects a different era and expresses a unique story. From its beginnings in the Eastern Roman Empire in the years 532-537 A.D., to the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, then known as Constantinople, to the current day, you will be immersed in other realms. Enjoy history on enormous screens, complemented with sound effects that enhance the experience.

Ultimately, admire historical artefacts and photographs of this world-renowned landmark.

Find out everything you need to learn about the Hagia Sophia History Museum here!

Frequently Asked Questions about Hagia Sophia

Where is Hagia Sophia?

Hagia Sophia is located in the heart of Sultanahmet, the Old City of Istanbul. It is situated along the Sultanahmet Square, across the Blue Mosque.

When was Hagia Sophia originally built?

The first basilica construction with a wooden roof was completed in 360 and burned down in 404 during an uprising. A new building was inaugurated under Theodosius II in 415 but went up in flames again during the Nika uprising of 532, during Justinian's reign. A third and final construction of Hagia Sophia was ordered immediately afterwards and inaugurated on December 26, 537.

What is the definition of Hagia Sophia?

Hagia Sophia is Greek and means Holy Wisdom.

Is Hagia Sophia free?

No, admission to Hagia Sophia Mosque is now 25$ for non-Turkish visitor.

What is Hagia Sophia used for today?

Since July 2020, Hagia Sophia serves a Muslim place of worship.

Historical Facts & Info about Hagia Sophia

Historical Facts & Info about Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) experienced almost the entire history of Constantinople and became the symbol of the Golden Age of Byzantium and the city of Istanbul.

The first basilica construction with a wooden roof was completed in 360 and burnt down in 404 in an uprising. A new building under Theodosius II was inaugurated in 415 and went up in flames during the reign of Justinian in the Nika Revolt of 532. A third and last construction of the Hagia Sophia was arranged immediately afterwards and opened on the 26th of December 537.

Until the end of the Byzantine Empire, the Hagia Sophia was used as a Greek Orthodox cathedral and was the venue for the most important ceremonies in the region. During the Latin occupation of 1204-1261, all holy relics were removed, and the church served as a Roman Catholic cathedral. Until the completion of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Hagia Sophia was the largest Christian church in the world.

After the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. Christian insignia were partially replaced by Islamic ones, icons were removed, and the mosaics were partly destroyed or plastered. The first great prayer service was held as a Friday prayer with Fatih Sultan Mehmet on June 3, 1453. During this period, a prayer niche facing Mecca, four minarets, a cistern, a medrese and a courtyard were added.

In 1934, eleven years after the founding of the Republic of Turkey, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum. In 1985, the structure was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Following a decree in July 2020, it was decided to transform the museum into an active mosque and rename it Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque.

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Best Audioguide to Visit Hagia Sophia

Audio guides are a great way to explore the highlights of the city at your own pace! This way you can get to know the city inexpensively, simply by using your mobile phone. YourMobileGuide is the best AudioGuide app for travelers. Just download the app, featuring self-guided tours written by local experts, a free city map, and exclusive discounts.

When visiting Hagia Sophia, the YourMobileGuides Hagia Sophia Tour is the ideal choice. On this self-guided tour, you will learn about the many details and secrets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has symbolized the city's turbulent history for over 1500 years.

Contact & Map

  • Address: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih /İstanbul
  • Opening Hours: Everyday, 24H
  • Public Transport: Tramway T1, Sultanahmet Stop
  • Official Website: Ayasofya
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