Aya Sofya

Address: Ayasofya Meydanı, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey
Telephone: 0212 528 45 00

- Mid-range


Awe-inspiring Byzantine building with a rich, complex history.

Constructed as a Christian basilica in the 6th century, this architecturally stunning building – the largest enclosed space in the world for nearly a millennia – is also richly evocative of the complex history (and present) of religion in the lands that form modern Turkey. Upon conquering Istanbul, one of the first things Sultan Mehmet II did was convert the church into a mosque. (It’s now a museum.) You only need gaze up at its 56-meter-high dome to understand what made it this symbolic structure such a coveted prize.

Value for money

Price advice

Admission is 20 lira.

Expert tips

Keep an eye out for the recently revealed angel mosaic high up in the central hall, visible for the first time since 1849.

Skip the pricey tour guides offering their services outside. Most displays in the museum have English labels.

Recommended for

  • Culture vultures
  • History
  • Design and architecture