Starting from January 15, 2024, access to the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul will be subject to an entrance fee for foreigners, a decision made following a recommendation from UNESCO.
The specific cost for foreign visitors is not specified at this time.
Foreign tourists and Turkish citizens attending religious services will use separate entrances to the mosque. This measure aims to prevent conflicts between tourists and worshipers.
The Hagia Sophia, originally constructed by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in 537 AD, has a rich history. It experienced damage from earthquakes on multiple occasions and, after the Fourth Crusade, was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Following the reconquest of Constantinople from the Crusaders in 1261, the cathedral was in a semi-ruined state and underwent restoration. On May 29, 1453, Constantinople fell to the Turks, and the cathedral, with the addition of four minarets, was transformed into the Hagia Sophia Mosque.
In 1934, Turkey’s first President, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, converted Hagia Sophia into a museum. In 1985, it was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
In 2020, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reversed the 1934 decision and reinstated Hagia Sophia’s status as a mosque, allowing it to be used for worship.