Istanbul City Tours
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Istanbul, Haghia Sophia: the greatest surviving example of Byzantine Architecture.

Istanbul Hagia Sophia. This ancient basilica, built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century, is one of the architectural marvels of all time.

Istanbul St Sophia: Byzantium's largest cathedral, converted to a mosque in 1453 by the Ottoman Empire and today open as a museum

Istanbul: Hagia Sofia Museum

Tour Style : Small Group Tour
  Duration : Half day Excursion (9 am to 1 pm)
  Departures : All year round. Daily departures (except Mondays)

Hagia Sophia is the greatest surviving example of Byzantine Architecture. For 1000 years it was once the largest church in the world, decorated with stunning 6th century golden mosaics.Undoubtedly an architectural wonder of all times, it actually traces its origins to the Byzantine Empire between 532 AD and 537 AD.

As you tour this amazing part of Istanbul's rich heritage you will learn more about the history of Hagia Sophia and Istanbul during the Byzantine Empire.

It was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman rule and due credit should be given to the Ottoman Turks, who continued the tradition of the Byzantine architecture. They converted the age old church of Hagia Sophia to a mosque and in the process, removed the various decorations like the bells, alter, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels, typical of Christian churches. The rich and impressive mosaics depicting various Christian images that were seen throughout the church were completely plastered over and instead the Islamic masters adorned the Hagia Sophia with attractive geometrical designs and also made extensive use of expensive colored stones, carved wood craft, gold and mother of pearl. Purely Islamic attributes such as the 'mihrab', 'minbar' and the four 'minarets' outside were added at various stages of the Ottoman rule.

The transition from a Christian patriarchal church to an Islamic mosque was quite impressive and later years saw the addition of a minbar to the sultan's gallery and a dais for sermons as well as a loggia for a muezzin.

The Hagia Sophia underwent several alterations and additions and remained an Islamic mosque till 1935, after which it was transformed into a museum by the secular Republic of Turkey.

Your guide will be an expert on Byzantine history, art and architecture.

One of the perks of the tour is priority admission to the museum, allowing you to jump ahead of the long lines at the ticket office.

Please Note: Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays.

What is included

• Transfer to and from hotel
• All entrance fees mentioned in the itinerary
• Transportation in a fully air-conditioned, non-smoking coach
• Professional English-speaking tour guides

Not included :
Drinks, tips to guide and driver, personal expenses and optional tours

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The remainder of the total fee can be paid in cash in Turkey on the start date for your programme.

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