March 31, 2021

Hagia Sophia: A Church, a Mosque, and Now a Museum

Istanbul, Turkey
1-2 hours

We got to visit one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. The exquisite Hagia Sophia is a religious site built between 532-537 A.D. This stunning building was an important monument for both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. It was once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum.

The Hagia Sophia 

This location is an amazing sight to behold. It’s also called the Church of the Holy Wisdom and the Church of the Divine Wisdom. It served as a center for religious, political, and art events during the Byzantine empire. Located in the heart of Istanbul, it’s one of the world’s greatest monuments. Visitors from around the world travel to view this incredible structure. Just like the Eiffel Tower is a famous attraction in Paris, the Hagia Sophia is a symbol of the city of Istanbul.


In 360 A.D., the Hagia Sophia went under construction. At that time, Istanbul was known as Constantinople. The Byzantine Emperor, Constantius, commissioned the church to overlook the Golden Horn Harbor. In 537 A.D., after having to rebuild due to a fire, they held the first religious service in the “new” building. At this time, Emperor Justinian was ruling. The original plan for the building was to be an Orthodox Christian cathedral. Later, it converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest in 1453. 

The Hagia Sophia remained in the hands of the Ottoman empire for centuries. In 1934, it transformed into a museum. Today, Hagia Sophia is one of Turkey’s most popular tourist sites. This monument alone attracts more than 3.7 million visitors a year! Also, it is now a Unesco World Heritage site.

The Design

This is such a beautiful place to visit. Defined by a large, domed roof and a semi-domed altar, you can see the Hagia Sophia from miles away. Also, the dome’s supporting arches are covered with mosaics of angels. The building measures 269 feet in length and 240 feet in width. The highest point of the building, the domed roof, reaches 180 feet into the air. The Hagia Sophia has over 104 columns. The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus donated the columns. 

Our Experience

In conclusion, we had such an amazing time exploring the Hagia Sophia. This was such a beautiful location, and we learned so much about the history of the building. I would highly recommend checking out this monument if you are traveling through Istanbul. In other words, thanks for following along with me. I love sharing my experiences with you! Stay tuned for more amazing places in Turkey.

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Big Guy Big World is a travel blog, following Mark Jacoby’s journey as a big guy on a bigger journey, exploring the world during a global pandemic. Follow along as we experience some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places.

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2 months ago

I LOVED visiting the Hagia Sophia multiple times during Ramadan. It was different each time and I will return again, soon!

Michael Pietrusinski
Michael Pietrusinski
1 month ago

As a Catholic. This is a place I have always wanted to make a pilgrimage to. Excellent pictures!! Looks beautiful!+