Hagia Sophia Facts

Hagia Sophia | Iconic Marvel of Byzantine Architecture and History

Hagia Sophia is a historic and iconic building located in Istanbul, Turkey. Originally built as a cathedral in the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century, it has since been repurposed as a mosque and now functions as a museum. The structure's grand dome and impressive architecture have made it a popular destination for tourists and historians alike.

During its time as a cathedral, Hagia Sophia was a symbol of the Byzantine Empire's power and grandeur. The structure's impressive size and intricate mosaics reflected the wealth and skill of the empire's artisans and architects. After the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople in 1453, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque and underwent several renovations to adapt to Islamic traditions. In 1935, it was converted into a museum by the Turkish government, which has allowed visitors to appreciate its historic and cultural significance.

Facts About Hagia Sophia

  • Hagia Sophia means "Holy Wisdom" in Greek and was originally built as a cathedral in the Byzantine Empire. It was later converted into a mosque and then a museum.
  • One of the interesting facts about Hagia Sophia is, that the construction of Hagia Sophia was completed in just five years, from 532 to 537, under the direction of architects Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus.
  • The dome of Hagia Sophia is 55.6 meters high and has a diameter of 31.8 meters, making it one of the largest in the world at the time of its construction.
  • The building has survived several earthquakes over the centuries, including a major one in 557 that caused significant damage to the dome. It was later rebuilt and reinforced with additional buttresses, it is one of the least known interesting facts about Hagia Sophia.
  • Hagia Sophia was considered the most important church in the Christian world for nearly a millennium, until the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.
  • When Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque, Islamic features were added, including mihrabs and minarets. The Christian mosaics were covered with plaster or removed entirely.
  • In 1935, the Turkish government turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, which allowed visitors of all religions to appreciate its historical and cultural significance.
  • Hagia Sophia facts include, In 2020, the Turkish government controversially converted Hagia Sophia back into a mosque, sparking debate and protests from people around the world who viewed it as a symbol of religious tolerance and cultural heritage.

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History Of Hagia Sophia

  • Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century AD as a cathedral in Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey, during the Byzantine Empire.
  • The original building was constructed in just five years under the orders of Emperor Justinian I, and it was designed to be the largest cathedral in the world at the time.
  • Hagia Sophia served as the principal church of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly a thousand years, until the city was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.
  • After the conquest, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque and underwent significant renovations, including the addition of minarets, the removal of Christian imagery, and the installation of Islamic features.
  • The building served as a mosque for nearly 500 years, until it was closed in 1931 and subsequently reopened as a museum by the Turkish government in 1935.
  • The structure's impressive size, grand dome, and intricate mosaics have made it a popular tourist destination and an iconic symbol of Istanbul's cultural heritage.
  • In 2020, Hagia Sophia was once again converted into a mosque by the Turkish government, sparking controversy and debate over its historical and religious significance.

Know More: Hagia Sophia History

Know Before You Go To Hagia Sophia

Essential Information
Best time to visit

Location: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye

How to Reach:

  • By tram: Istanbul's modern tram system has a stop at Sultanahmet, which is just a short walk from Hagia Sophia. Trams run regularly and connect to other parts of the city, including the airport.
  • By metro: The Marmaray metro line has a stop at Sirkeci, which is within walking distance of Hagia Sophia. This line connects the European and Asian sides of Istanbul and is a convenient way to reach the city's other attractions.
  • By bus: Several bus lines stop near Hagia Sophia, including lines 22, 81, and 82. However, navigating Istanbul's bus system can be challenging for visitors who are unfamiliar with the city.
  • By taxi: Taxis are widely available in Istanbul and can be hailed on the street or ordered through a mobile app. However, traffic in the city can be heavy, so it's important to factor in extra time for travel.
  • By foot: If you are staying in the Sultanahmet area, it's possible to reach Hagia Sophia on foot. The area is relatively compact and pedestrian-friendly, and there are many restaurants, shops, and other attractions to explore along the way.

Timings: 09:00-19:30

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The best time to visit Hagia Sophia is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April-May) or fall (September-November). During these times, the weather is mild and crowds are generally smaller than during the peak summer months. It's also advisable to visit early in the day, when the museum is less crowded and the light inside the building is particularly beautiful. Be aware that the museum is closed on Mondays, and there may be long lines during peak tourist season.

Also Checkout: Plan Your Visit to Hagia Sophia

FAQs of Hagia Sophia

When was Hagia Sophia built?

Hagia Sophia was built between 532 and 537 AD during the Byzantine Empire.

What is the meaning of "Hagia Sophia"?

"Hagia Sophia" means "Holy Wisdom" in Greek.

What religion was Hagia Sophia originally built for?

Hagia Sophia was originally built as a cathedral for the Eastern Orthodox Church.

When was Hagia Sophia converted into a mosque?

Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1453 after the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople.

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When was Hagia Sophia turned into a museum?

Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum in 1935 by the Turkish government.

What is the dome of Hagia Sophia made of?

The dome of Hagia Sophia is made of brick and mortar and is supported by pendentives, which transfer the weight of the dome onto massive columns below.

How tall is the dome of Hagia Sophia?

The dome of Hagia Sophia is 55.6 meters high, or approximately 182 feet.

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Are the Christian mosaics still visible inside Hagia Sophia?

Some of the Christian mosaics are still visible inside Hagia Sophia, but many were covered with plaster or removed entirely during the mosque period.

What additions did Sultan Mahmud I make to the building in 1739?

In 1739, Sultan Mahmud I restored a building and added a medrese (Koranic school) that later became a museum library. He also included an imaret (soup kitchen) for the needy and a regular library. In 1740, a Şadirvan (fountain for washing) was constructed, transforming the building into a külliye (social complex). Additionally, a new sultan's lodge and a new mihrab (prayer niche) were built inside. Overall, Sultan Mahmud I improved the building, creating a comprehensive social and religious center.

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