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Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey

During my road trip through Eastern Europe we also spent a couple of days in Turkey. In Istanbul we’ve spent some days at a friends place who generously showed us around and told us some insider places we should definitely visit while in the city!

Not an insider tip, but a very famous place to visit is the Hagia Sophia. Formerly an Orthodox basilica it later was transformed into a mosque and since 1935 it is a museum open to the public.

hagia sophia, Istanbul

Don’t like crowded places? Come early!

The Hagia Sophia is one of the most famous monuments of Istanbul and you can expect it being very busy wether it is cold or hot outside. If you don’t like big crowds, avoid this monument, alternatively come really early or really late in the day!

Between 9 AM and 12 PM normal tourists and cruise ship passengers walk through this huge monument. It can happen that you have to wait several hours until you get in!

The Hagia Sophia is a very old monument with many sights to enjoy. At the ground level most things have an islamic background. In the apse of the mihrab is a marble structure indicating the direction of Mecca. At the upper level there are many christian sights like a great mosaic of the virgin and child and some damaged mosaics.

hagia sophia, Istanbul

Low light, high sight!

During spring and autumn the lights in- and outside the building are amazing. The low sun makes the inside look very mystical. Next time i’m in the city I would go back and spent some more time there!

Have you been to Istanbul and visited the Hagia Sophia? What was your impression? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

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11 comments on “Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

  1. Stephanie - The Travel Chica on

    I’ve been. It’s beautiful! Good tip on avoiding the crowds. I don’t remember what time I went, but it was quite crowded.

  2. Rachel on

    I never even thought to go early – good tip! I went in the middle of the day and it was packed; we could barely move around. Did mean we got to sneakily follow tour groups around and get some free info on the art though haha. Nice pictures!

  3. Jonathan Simmons on

    Hagia Sophia is truly a gem among the sights of Istanbul but I think there are also so many other places that most tourists don’t get to see because they just don’t know about them. I found this article and went to visit the places mentioned and can say that the city has a lot of other hidden treasures if you are up for exploring a little:

  4. Mariah on

    I also fell in love with Istanbul! My friend and I spent the weekend in the old part of town and got to stroll past the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque daily. It was quite the background for our adventures! Our favorite part of the city was going to a traditional hamam for a turkish bath!

  5. Halida A. on

    I’ve been to Hagia Sophia~!
    when I went there, the place wasn’t crowded although it was already noon & the season was summer. there was a construction going on, though 🙁
    It was still incredibly beautiful..wasn’t like any other places i had been to!

  6. Emily on

    This is a great tip – I ended up skipping the Hagia Sophia due to the enormous lines! I only had about 36 hours in Istanbul and didn’t want to spend however many of them standing in a hot line!