Hagia Sophia is one of the most extraordinary buildings in the history of architecture and from the Golden Age of Byzantium. It played such an important role in Byzantine Empire as well as in Ottoman Empire as a mosque.
Built a church then converted to a mosque during Ottoman Empire,now it serves as a museum with beautiful decoratings inside.
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Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour: Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Grand Bazaar
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Tour Code : ADN-5255
Tour Style : Full Day - Regular/Private
Duration : 8 hours (approx.)
Departures : All year round, Guarantee Departure
Highlights : Blue Mosque Sultanahmet, St. Sophia Museum, Topkapi Palace, Hippodrome & Obelisk, Rustem Pasa Mosque, Grand Covered Bazaar
• Full-day eight-hour tour of Istanbul and its four main attractions
• Superb Blue Mosque
• Historic Hagia Sophia and its Byzantine mosaics
• Ottoman architecture and museums of Topkapi Palace
• Shopping in the Grand Bazaar
• Lunch included
• English-speaking guide
• Hotel pick-up and drop-off
Full Day Istanbul Old City Tour
8:15 – 8:45 Departure from your hotel.
Blue Mosque: One of the most famous monuments in both the Turkish and Islamic worlds, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque) is a superb creation in the classical Ottoman style. The mosque has six towering minarets and 260 windows illuminating its vast main chamber, which is decorated with more than 20,000 Iznik tiles.
Hippodrome: The former center of sprotive and political activities of Constantinople. You will be able to see the Obelisk from Egypt, Serpentine Column from Delphi and fountain of Willhelm II..
Hagia Sophia: Now a museum, Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century by the Emperor Justinian, and was one of the largest basilicas in the Christian world. After the Ottoman conquest, it was converted to a mosque and is today one of the most magnificent museums in the world. Take a moment to linger here to admire the fine Byzantine mosaics. (closed on Monday)
Topkapi Palace: The largest and oldest palace in the world, Topkapi is the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire. With its treasury and exotic buildings overlooking the Golden Horn, your visit to Topkapi promises to be a truly fascinating experience. (closed on Tuesday)
Grand Bazaar: In operation since the 14th century, the Grand Bazaar is one of the world's largest covered markets, with 58 streets and over 4,000 shops. The bazaar is specially known for its jewelry, leather, pottery, spices and carpets. (closed on Sunday additional time will be spent at the other locations).
Rustem Pasa Mosque: designed by the court architect Sinan for the Grand Vizier of Süleyman The Magnificent. A typical sample of Islamic architecture amidst the rows of shops near the Spice Bazaar, famed with its exquisite and colorful tiles set in floral and geometric designs.
Tour finishes approximately 17:30.
Closed: Hagia Sophia on Monday Replaced with Kariye (St. Savior in Chora) Museum, City Walls and Yedikule Dungeon (Golden Gate). Topkapi Palace on Tuesday Replaced with Archaeological Museum. Grand Covered Bazaar on Sunday
BOTH of these MUST VISIT SITES are located very close to each other, and conveniently, there is a beautiful park and fountain inbetween for a break from the history overload!
You can eat at a little Restaurant in a nice position here, or buy something and sit in the park and people watch, both is enjoyable.
HAGIA SOPHIA, (World Heritage Site) .........
This is not the 1st or the 2nd Hagia Sophia, it is the 3rd TO BE BUILT (532 - 537) ON THIS SITE.
It is HUGE and it takes a long time to look around.
Don't forget to climb the staircase to the second floor for more beauty and some lovely views outside as well.
It is best to get there at opening time as it is less crowded than later in the day, even then, there is a lot of people!
OPEN DAILY ..9.15 - 4.30PM ........CLOSED MONDAYS.
ADMISSION IS FREE ............. DONATIONS ACCEPTED.
OPEN DAILY................. BUT NOT AT PRAYER TIMES
Ladies, if you do not have a Head scarf to cover your head, then they will supply you with one at the door. Please dress respectfully!
It is also advisable to come back in the evenings and see both of these lit up, a lovely sight!There are still plenty of people around, so its quite safe when on your own!
LOCATION: BOTH are located in the Sultanhmet area, and are marked on ALL TOURIST MAPS.
The Hagia Sophia has been many things to many people. To me, it has always been a mystery that was introduced in high school History of Civilization... never something I'd imagine I would one day visit! Originally an Orthodox basilica and later a mosque, today "Ayasofia" is a museum that can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday for twenty lira.
Once you are inside the fifteen-hundred-year-old Hagia Sophia, you'll be impressed by the many significant Byzantine architectural features such as the giant dome and the Imperial Door (through which only emperors were permitted to enter). The Hagia Sophia is also home to many famous mosaics, including the Deesis Mosaic (seen in the attached photos, dating back to the thirteenth century). Other fun features include graffiti left by Viking visitors hundreds of years ago (upstairs) and the Weeping Pillar, where Emperor Justinian rested his head and was "miraculously" cured (today you too can queue for your chance to rub your hand in a circle around this much-touched column).
The Church of the Holy Wisdom, known as Hagia Sophia is a former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque in Istanbul.
It's now a museum, although I didn't have the time to take a look inside. After going into the Blue Mosque, which is opposite, i just chilled out in the sunshine and enjoyed the architecture from the outside.
Maybe next time I'll pop inside for a look see.
The present Hagia Sophia is built on the site of a great church built by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine in 360 AD. It was destroyed by fire in 404 AD and a stronger building was opened in 416 AD. This building was destroyed by anti-imperial rebels in 532 and the present structure was completed in 537.
Mosaics of religious scenes and people were removed in the Iconoclastic Era (726 AD) and replaced with simple cross shapes. When this era ended in 843 Hagia Sophia was redecorated with frescoes and mosaics, many with golden tiles, only for them to be covered over with lime when the building became a mosque in the 1450's. This actually preserved the works of art until they were restored by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the building opened as a museum in 1935.
An amazing building - definitely a must see.
This building has a colourful history.
First built as a church, then converted to a mosque, then decreed a museum by the government.
The building is in the stages of renovation (including the renovation of the christian art works,) and will be for some time.
It is a wonderful experience to enter and wander the building (DO NOT MISS GOING UPSTAIRS), The building now is a mix of Mosque and Church which is a bit strange to get used to, but the former glory is slowly coming through.
Well worth a visit and a wander.
Closed on mondays.
The stone that marks the centre of the Universe is just opposite of Hagia Sophia at the entrence of the Cistern, on the right side of tram line in Sultanahmet. Sometimes it’s called the Millennium Stone; sometimes the Million Stone, sometimes Point Zero. It isthe zero meridian point of the world.
One day a man asked Nasrettin hodja, a Turkish joker and philosopher: Where is the central point of the world?”
The Hodja's donkey was with him. So he pointed to his donkey.
“Where the front legs of my donkey are, there is the middle point of the world.”
“How can you prove that?” asked the men.
“If you don't believe, you can measure it or ask my donkey ”, the Hodja said.
Hagia Sofia (Ayasofya) was built in 537 as a church and after Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered Istanbul in 1453, it was transformed into a mosque. However, the interior wasn't destroyed. This is an example of religious tolerance because Ottomans respected other religions and they didn't force non-muslims to convert their religion or treated them badly. There were many non-muslims very effective in the empire and this continued till the end of empire. Some reinforcements had to be made to the building after centuries weakened the foundations. Great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan made the reinforcements and additional minarets in 1577. The building has become a museum in 1935 after being used as a mosque for almost 5 centuries. It was visited by Pope Benedict on his Istanbul visit.
Little Hagia Sophia is located right beside the railway line near the Sea of Marmara and began life as the Church of Sergius and Bacchus, begun by Justian and his Empress Theodora in 527, five years before the (“Big”) Hagia Sophia. Due to its strong external resemblance to the Hagia Sophia, it is believed that the building had been designed by the same architects, namely Isidorus of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles, and that its erection was a kind of "dress rehearsal" for that of the largest church of the Byzantine Empire. However, in terms of architectural details, the building is quite different in design from the Hagia Sophia and the notion that it was but a small-scale version has largely been discredited.
After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the church remained untouched until the reign of Bayezid II. Then (between 1506 and 1513) it was transformed into a mosque by Huseyin Aga, the chief of the Aghas, (Black Eunuchs). In 1740 the Grand Vizier Haci Ahmet Pasha restored the mosque and built the fountain. Damage caused by the earthquakes of 1648 and 1763 were repaired in 1831 under the reign of Sultan Mahmud II. In 1762 the minaret was first built but was demolished in 1940 and built again in 1956.
The pace of decay of the building, which already suffered because of humidity and earthquakes through the centuries, accelerated after the construction of the railway and it was placed on the UNESCO 100 Most Endangered Sites list before finally being renovated in 2006 and it looks absolutely magical and is well worthy of a visit. There's also a nice tea garden at the front.
The interior of the Hagia Sophia is of incredible proportions: it remained the world's largest church until the completion of la Catedral de Sevilla in Spain in 1520 AD. The square basilica is divided into a central nave and two side galleries, and is topped by a majestic 31 m dome rising to a height of 56 m. Through its ingenious design concealing the four massive supporting pillars, the lofty dome hovers above the centre of the nave as though it is weightless. The walls are sheathed in polychrome marble, while the dome and the ceilings were originally covered in mosaics, most of which perished over the years. The nave is surrounded by an upper gallery, and contains four exedrae and an apse, all topped by half domes. It is near the apse that the most prominent Ottoman additions were made over the years, including the mihrab (imam's prayer niche facing Mecca), minbar (pulpit), Sultan's loge and the marble platforms for reading the Koran. A 19th century Ottoman restoration also saw the addition of an enormous chandelier suspended from the dome, and eight large discs placed on the upper walls and inscribed in elegant Arabic calligraphy of the names of God (Allah), the Prophet Mohammed, the first four Caliphs, and Mohammed's two grandsons, al-Hassan and al-Hussein. Apart from its impressive architecture and incredible survival, the interior of the Hagia Sophia is fascinating because of the inclusion of Christian and Moslem symbols in one place.
For more photos of the interior of the basilica, check out the travelogue: "Hagia Sophia Details".
One of the ancient world's most magnificent structures, the Hagia Sophia is an architectural marvel that continues to impress to this day. Built on the orders of Emperor Justinian I in 537 AD, the Hagia Sophia, whose Greek name means Holy Wisdom, was the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church for an entire millennia. Building materials were brought in from quarries and ancient monuments around the Empire, including columns from the Temple of Jupiter in Baalbek and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, and stones from Greece, Syria and Egypt. Justinian's church was the third Hagia Sophia to be built on this site, the location of the Ancient Greek Acropolis of Byzantion. The first was constructed in 360 AD by Emperor Constantius II and destroyed in the riots of 404 AD. A second was swiftly built only to be destroyed once again in the Nika Revolt of 532 AD. The third, today's existing basilica, also suffered repeated damage, particularly from earthquakes, and had to be continually restored and reinforced. Upon the arrival of the Ottomans in Constantinople in the 15th century, the basilica was restored and converted into a mosque, and over the following few centuries it received minarets and other elements dedicated to Moslem practices. Thereafter, the Hagia Sophia's incredible design fascinated Ottoman architects and inspired mosque architecture across the entire Empire. After the fall of the Ottomans, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, converted the mosque-basilica into a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi).
As you exit the building, you'll come into a small courtyard where you'll find a fountain and some tombs. More tombs can be found (to which you can view inside), to the left as you exit the courtyard. Simply walk around to the left as if you're heading towards the entrance to the Topkapi Palace and there's an entrance into a small tomb area.
The church was richly decorated with mosaics throughout the centuries. They either depicted the Virgin Mother, Jesus, Saints, or emperors and empresses and date from between the 9th and 13th centuries. Other parts were decorated in a purely decorative style with geometric patterns. Following the building's conversion into a mosque in 1453, many of its mosaics were covered with plaster, due to Islam's ban on representational imagery.
In 1847–49, the building was restored by two Swiss brothers, Gaspare and Giuseppe Fossati, and Sultan Abdulmecid allowed them to also document any mosaics they might discover during this process. This work did not include repairing the mosaics and after recording the details about an image, the Fossatis painted it over again. This work included covering the previously uncovered faces of two seraphim mosaics located in the centre of the building. The building currently features a total of four of these images and two of them are restorations in paint created by the Fossatis to replace two images of which they could find no surviving remains. In other cases, the Fossatis recreated damaged decorative mosaic patterns in paint, sometimes redesigning them in the process.
The most famous mosaics include the Virgin and Child from 867 AD, situated in a high location on the half dome of the apse set against the original golden background of the 6th century; the Empress Zoe mosaics on the eastern wall of the southern gallery which date from the 11th century; the Deesis (meaning Entreaty) mosaic that probably dates from 1261. It was commissioned to mark the end of 57 years of Roman Catholic use and the return to the Orthodox faith. It is the third panel situated in the imperial enclosure of the upper galleries. It is widely considered the finest in Hagia Sophia, because of the softness of the features; and the Comnenus mosaics, located on the eastern wall of the southern gallery, that date from 1122.
A long ramp from the northern part of the outer narthex leads up to the upper gallery. The upper gallery is laid out in a horseshoe shape that encloses the nave until the apse. Several mosaics are preserved in the upper gallery, an area traditionally reserved for the empress and her court. The best-preserved mosaics are located in the southern part of the gallery.