Hagia Sophia
Culture & History

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Our most recommended Hagia Sophia Culture & History

Istanbul: Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia Small-Group Tour

1. Istanbul: Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia Small-Group Tour

Discover the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Hippodrome on a private or shared guided walking tour in Istanbul. Admire the historic architecture and unique views of the city. Get an insider perspective of these must-see sights. Meet your guide in the Sultanahmet neighborhood at an easy spot and check out Istanbul's greatest monuments on a walking tour with an expert guide. Start with the Blue Mosque, the most visited monument in Istanbul famous for its stunning blue tiles. Marvel at this imperial Ottoman Mosque, commissioned by Sultan Ahmet. Witness the evocative power and splendor of its past as you enjoy a comprehensive guided tour of the Blue Mosque. Afterward, enjoy the courtyard for breathtaking views of modern Istanbulites and take a stroll around the neighborhood. Walk through the Hippodrome, the social and political center of the city, and learn about the significance of the famous obelisks. Visit the Hagia Sophia and witness the most significant site of the Greek Orthodox religion in Istanbul and learn how it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Explore the stunning monument with elements of a mosque and a church standing next to each other. Admire the basilica’s stunning dome and minarets, and countless mosaics, paintings, and Roman columns. Learn how the impressive İznik tiles were added over time in the Mosque, how the stunning Virgin Mary mosaic was made, and why the Ottomans chose to bury their sultans in the courtyard. Explore the Arasta Bazaar nestled right under the shadow of the Blue Mosque to understand 17th Century architecture of public buildings. It is a well-known but modest open-air market in the heart of Sultanahmet. Enjoy a last-minute tea break and hunt for gifts to take home. End your tour in Sultanahmet Square with enough information and hints to help you be independent for the rest of your time in Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia: Entry with Guided Tour

2. Hagia Sophia: Entry with Guided Tour

Travel back in time to experience the story of the ancient Hagia Sophia on a guided tour in Istanbul. Trace how this iconic site has transformed over time with a local guide. Uncover stunning details as you explore this architectural gem. Meet with your professional local guide in front of Hagia Sophia. Hear a short history of the Old City then start the Hagia Sophia Tour.  Your guide will explain the mystery of the magnificent Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia is a great architectural beauty and an important monument both for the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires. Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum at the Turkish Republic, Hagia Sophia has always been a precious building. 

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia & Topkapi Palace Combo Ticket

3. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia & Topkapi Palace Combo Ticket

Visiting Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace requires standing in 2 lines: one for the ticket, and one for the security check. With this combo ticket, you skip the ticket lines and enter the Topkapi Palace as fast as possible, giving you more time to spend inside these museums. To use your voucher, meet your local host at the entrance of Hürrem Sultan Hamam. They are available at the time selected during the booking process at a very visible meeting point. Your host will then take you through the skip the ticket line gate to enter the museums. With this combo ticket, you can visit each museum one time. You can visit both museums in one day or you can visit each museum on different days. It is recommended to visit the museums either before 10:00 AM or after 2:00 PM since it will be less crowded inside.

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

4. Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

Discover Istanbul's most iconic sights on a van tour. Listen to your guide recount tales of the city's colorful past as you pass by landmarks such as the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Hippodrome. Round off the experience with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world. Start your tour at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which was the sports and social center of the old city. Discover major artworks including the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the fountain of Willhelm II. Then, continue to the Blue Mosque, whose 6 minarets adorn Istanbul’s skyline. Next up is the Topkapi Palace, which was home to Ottoman emperors between the 15th and 19th centuries. Marvel at the jewel-stuffed treasury, the Ottoman Empire's imperial collections, and priceless displays of Oriental porcelain. If the Topkapi Palace is closed on your trip date, you'll visit the Nakkas Cistern instead. Continue to the Hagia Sophia Mosque, a monument of equal significance to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Behold the dome and stunning mosaics of this architectural gem as your guide recounts its turbulent history. Then, enter the Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewelry to ceramics and leather goods. Take a stroll around the Spice Bazaar and soak in the aroma of different spices, dried fruits, nuts, sweets, and lokum (Turkish Delights).

İstanbul Welcome Card

5. İstanbul Welcome Card

When you arrive in Istanbul your welcome package will be waiting at your hotel. Inside the package, find your card loaded with 10 rides for public transportation and vouchers to join the Bosphorus Cruise, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and Topkapi Palace tours. Skip the lines and explore the Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and the Topkapi Palace with a historian guide. Have fun on a cruise along the Bosphorus and witness breathtaking views over the shimmering waters of Istanbul's magnificent river. See bridges, palaces, fortresses, seaside residences and, many other historical places. Travel around the city with 10 transportation tickets including metro, tram, ferry, funicular, bus, and metrobus. Take advantage of numerous discounts at many top attractions across the city and discover museums with the included audio guides at your own pace.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar Tour

6. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar Tour

Like most visitors to Istanbul, especially first-time visitors; you will want to see and photograph the Blue Mosque. Complete with its 6 minarets and ornate glass windows, this site is a must when visiting Istanbul. Following that, you will travel next door to the Hagia Sophia Museum. A magnificent Byzantine Church, it is one of the finest and largest architectural works of art in the world.  After the Hagia, you'll find your way to the entrance of the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world. In addition to its historical importance, it's a bazaar that will tempt even those without an interest in shopping with its rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jewellery, leather, and souvenirs.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi & Basilica Combo Ticket

7. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi & Basilica Combo Ticket

After signing up for this experience, your name will be on the list for each of the monuments for 3 days. Be free to visit at the available times, gathering at the meeting points in front of the museums to skip the line with an authorized host. You can choose to visit all 3 museums in 1 day, or the three of them separately on different days. Once inside the museums, get tips on how to discover the museums in the best way. Afterward, you can stroll through the museums at your own pace as you listen to your audio guide app and explore for as long as you like. If you have any questions about the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, the Cisterna Basilica, or Istanbul in general, please do not hesitate to ask your host.

Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private City Guided Tour

8. Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private City Guided Tour

Discover the best of Istanbul on this 1, 2, or 3-day private tour that covers the major attractions, such as the Hagia Sophia Museum, the iconic Blue Mosque, the bustling maze of the Grand Bazaar, and the obelisk of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. A few of the possible attraction you'll visit on your tour include: The Hagia Sophia, a great architectural beauty and an important monument during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. For many centuries, this was the largest church in the world, and it still boasts the 4th largest dome after St. Paul's in London, St. Peter's in Rome, and the Duomo in Florence. Dedicated to the Hagia Sophia or 'divine wisdom', it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. The Blue Mosque, more officially known as the "Sultanahmet" Mosque has striking blue tiles give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul’s most iconic attractions. Located close to Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque was considered the Supreme Imperial Mosque in Istanbul. Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. The former palace boasted a population of about 4,000 people at its peak and was home to 25 sultans over a period of 400 years. Located on a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn, it sits in tranquil gardens that provide shade from the blazing heat of the summer. Pop in to the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. The Hippodrome is the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. Three monuments from the original building remain, including the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column. Pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handcraft shops selling everything from handmade carpets to Turkish coffee, the atmosphere is electric, and it's a great place to try out your bargaining skills. The spice bazaar is located in Fatih. It's known as the Egyptian Market because during the Ottoman period, Egyptian exports were sold there. The Bosphorus is a narrow, navigable strait between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses are located at the narrowest point of Bosphorus. There are also magnificent Ottoman palaces and mosques along the Bosphorus. Keep an eye out for them. Built in the 19th century, Dolmabahce Palace was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire and housed some of the last Ottoman Sultans. The palace site was created by filling in the small bay on the Bosphorus. This gave rise to its name — in Turkish, Dolma means "filled" or "stuffed," and bahce means "garden". Istiklal Street is brimming with life. There, you'll find a plethora of shops, restaurants, and bars, and from there, it's an interesting and scenic 2-kilometer walk down to the Tunel Galata Tower area. See this and more depending on which length tour option you select. Possible Itinerary for each day of the tour: Day 1: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Hippodrome Day 2: Spice Market, Bosphorus Cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal, Galata Tower Day 3: Suleymaniye Mosque, Chora Church, Fener/Balat Districts, Pierre Loti Hill

Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia & More: Istanbul City Tour

9. Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia & More: Istanbul City Tour

This full-day sightseeing tour of Istanbul provides a perfect introduction to the city that straddles Europe and Asia. When Istanbul was known as Constantinople, it was the capital of the Roman Empire and the wealthiest metropolis in Europe. On this city tour you’ll visit Istanbul’s 4 most important historic sites with a local guide. The Blue Mosque is an iconic monument in both the Turkish and Islamic worlds. The stunning structure was built in the classical Ottoman style, and features 6 towering minarets and 260 windows that provide illumination for its vast inner chamber that is lined with more than 20,000 Iznik tiles. In the 6th century, the Hagia Sophia was built by the Emperor Justinian. After the Ottoman conquest, it was converted to a mosque and later converted into a museum, featuring many beautiful Byzantine mosaics. One of the largest and oldest palaces in the world, Topkapi is the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire. With its treasury and exotic buildings overlooking the Golden Horn, walking Topkapi's grounds offers gorgeous views of the city and the nearby Bosphorus. You’ll have time to shop at the Grand Bazaar – its 58 streets are lined with more than 4,000 shops. It is one of the world's largest covered markets, and is particularly known for its jewelry, leather, pottery, spices, and carpets.

Istanbul: Small Group Skip-the-Line Luxury Day Tour

10. Istanbul: Small Group Skip-the-Line Luxury Day Tour

Discover the only city in the world on 2 continents - where east meets west - on a full-day sightseeing tour of Istanbul by luxury minibus. Following a pick-up from your hotel or cruise ship, visit the Hippodrome to explore the former center of sport and political activities in Constantinople. Marvel at the Obelisk from Egypt, Serpentine Column from Delphi, and fountain of Wilhelm II. Continue to the iconic Blue Mosque, known for its glorious blue Iznik tiles and 6 minarets. Admire the former imperial residence of the Ottoman sultans at Topkapi Palace, and learn how the Great Ottoman Empire was ruled. Today, the palace is a spectacular museum, with one of the largest collections of Chinese and Japanese porcelain, along with the famous treasury of the Royal Family. Next, go to the Hagia Sophia, a magnificent Byzantine Church that is considered one of the finest architectural works of art in the world. Stroll the alleys and warrens of the Grand Bazaar, and interact with the vendors selling their rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jewelry, leather, and souvenirs. Transfer back to your hotel or cruise ship for the end of the tour services.

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What people are saying about Hagia Sophia

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 1,605 reviews

The best tour for first timers in istanbul who love history, arts and legends. We had an amazing guide Serder Donmez who was the most accomodating and understanding. We recommend wearing comfy shoes because this is a walking tour. Best decision we made to cover the important points of the City.

Our guide was absolutely fantastic - extremely knowledgeable, clearly passionate about the history, and very accommodating. Highly recommend.

My guide was entertaining and easy to get along with. He did an outstanding job explaining the history and cultural aspects of Istanbul.

was very informative..hazal was our guide.she is so friendly we felt like we were with family member.was very nice experience

great and interesting guide to know about the history of the historical Istanbul