Visiting the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

I visited Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia in March 2023 and made this video.

It’s one of the great buildings of the world, both in terms of its architecture and its amazing history. All of which is really well documented online.

My video is more about what it’s like to visit the building as one of the millions who do so each year. The atmosphere and presence is palpable when you are inside.

Some history in a thumbnail

The Hagia Sophia was constructed in the year 537, when Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine (or Eastern Roman) empire. 

It was built as a Christian church, with a dome 12 m taller than that of the Pantheon in Rome. The Hagia Sophia served as a church and cathedral for almost 1,000 years until the Ottomans conquered Constantiople in 1456.

The Ottomans repurposed the building as a mosque and it remained one until shortly after the Ottoman empire itself collapsed.  In the 1930’s the new secular Turkish leader Kemal Atatürk changed the name of Constantinople to Istanbul and changed the Hagia Sophia into a museum. 

In 2020, the building was converted back into a mosque, but it remains open to visitors of all faiths.

Because the Hagia Sophia is a mosque, there is no entry fee. 

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