Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)

Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya)

Famous for its impressive size, remarkable architecture and beautiful mosaics and frescoes, the massive ochre-coloured domed structure known as Hagia Sophia is one of Istanbul's most popular attractions. It was commissioned as a cathedral in the 6th century and remained the most important church in Christianity for over 900 years. In the 15th century Mehmet II conquered the city and converted it into a mosque, adding the minarets and fountains. It functioned as such for the next 481 years until the founding of the secular Turkish Republic in 1934 when it was declared a museum. Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest Byzantine buildings in the world, and the vast interior, with its huge soaring dome, is extraordinary. The interior contains different features from its time as a cathedral and then as a mosque, including incredible Byzantine mosaics, icons and marble columns, a mihrab (niche indicating the direction of Mecca), and Islamic calligraphy inscriptions on the dome from the Ottoman period.

Information & Facts

Sultanahmet Square
15 YTL
Turkish is the official language, but English is widely understood in the main tourist areas.

The official currency is the New Turkish Lira (TRY), which was introduced on 1 January 2005, whereby six zeros were dropped from the TL and the sub-unit New Kurush was created. Currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange booths, post offices, airports and ferry ports; banks have the worst rates and highest commissions, but will exchange lesser known foreign currencies. Banks open mainly Monday to Friday, but some are open daily in tourist areas. ATMs are widely available in major cities and tourist areas, but Turkish ATM keypads usually do not have letters of the alphabet on their keys. Most bank branches have ATMs which accept Cirrus and Plus. Major credit cards are widely accepted; the most popular are Visa or MasterCard, but American Express is accepted in many of the more expensive places. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at some banks and currency exchange offices, but are not as welcome as cash or credit cards. US dollars or Euros are preferred. Some pensions and hotels in the most popular destinations accept US dollars as payment.

Opening Times
Open daily except Mondays from 9:30am-4:30pm
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