Istanbul: Half-Day Tour Including Hagia Sophia
- Transportation included
- Duration: 4.5 hours
This magnificent Byzantine church turned Ottoman mosque was made a museum in 1935 by Kemal Ataturk, the father of the Turkish Republic. It's one of Istanbul's proudest icons, so here are five things that shaped this showcase of Christian and Islamic Empires.
The grand church was converted to a mosque after the Ottoman conquest in 1453. However, the site has also been home to two previous churches and a Pagan temple!
Justinian I strained the breadth of his Empire to have the Hagia Sophia built in 537. On its completion he's said to have proudly boasted, "Oh Solomon, I have surpassed thee!"
Not making it to Jerusalem, the Venetian-led Fourth Crusaders instead took Constantinople. Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice still houses many of the spoils!
As well as being sacked in the Fourth Crusade, the Hagia Sophia's heavy dome has collapsed several times due to earthquakes. It wasn't completely stabilized until 1859!
The Hagia Sophia became a mosque in 1453, when the Ottomans seized Constantinople. Its many alterations included the erection of minarets and the purging of Christian iconography.
You can visit the Hagia Sophia between the hours of 9:00AM and 7:00PM from April 15th to September 31st, and between 9:00AM and 5:00PM from October 1st to April 14th. It is closed in the early days of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha. Book tickets in advance to avoid the queues!
The Hagia Sophia is just a short walk from the Sultanahment metro and tram stops. Close to many of Istanbul's historic attractions, it's also covered on most city walking tours!
Outstanding Experience, strongly suggested! Our guide "Matt" was very friendly and fond of all the details regarding the magnificent architectural and historical marvels of Istanbul. He picked me and my partner from the "Swissôtel The Bosphorus Istanbul" on a sunny 25 degrees October morning at 08:30am in the lobby. Due to COVID19 the group was very small, 3 people. The absence of tourists had a very positive impact on our daily schedule: We had the 15th century Topkapi Palace with its Ottoman treasures all for ourselves gently walking in the sun across the magnificent park with stunning panoramas of the Bosphorus. We then visited the secular 537AD worldwide known Hagia Sophia, the Sultan Ahmet Türbesi graves, the colourful Hand-painted blue tiles of the 15th century Blue Mosque and The Hippodrome of Constantinople with its columns. Lunch at a cozy local restaurant and then shopping at Bazar. All at a walking pace with no rush and time to feel the holiness and history of these sites.
Turned out that we were the only ones to buy the tour that day and time. Guide was very clear and explained some interesting things about the city and Sophia in particular. Totally worth the money and time!
A gem of a tour! From the start a first class service with excellent communication and consideration - The day was fascinating and extremely memorable - thoroughly enjoyed every minute - Thank you
Mehmet was an amazing guide, he took to all of the top tourists area. He was very knowledgeable about the history of Turkey. He even took me pictures, and was very friendly.
Mahmet was an amazing, kind and knowledgeable guide. He answered all of our questions and was incredibly patient with our 2-yr-old. Highly recommended!!