Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Asia

Hagia Sophia

Famed for its architecture, the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul stands as an icon and represents the city's history. For these reasons it draws thousands of visitors every year. After serving as both a church and mosque, Hagia Sophia makes for a fascinating visit if you appreciate religious art and architecture as well as its famed dome, which can be seen across the city and is instantly recognizable. It is not just a national monument but it is acknowledged as one of the world's greatest structures. Testament to this is its UNESCO World Heritage status given to protect this site and other historic monuments in the city, gained in 1985.

Step into Istanbul's past

Hagia Sophia has a long history. The original 4th century structure was built by the first Emperor, Constantine the Great. Nothing remains of the original Hagia Sofia site, however some of what we see today dates back to the 6th century and was commissioned by the Emperor's son. It was originally built as a Greek Orthodox Church and at one time was converted to a Roman Catholic Church. In the 15th century, it was then converted to a mosque. Since 1935, it has served as a secular museum and symbol of Istanbul for all to see.

Visitor highlights

As with many basilicas around the world, the main feature is the central dome and this certainly draws the most attention, especially the sheer scale of it. The crown of the dome reaches 55 meters high. Surrounding this are four impressive minarets towering over the main building. Step inside the complex and you will be met by ancient, decorative mosaics that adorn the main gates and many of the walls. You will also find two lustration urns dating back to Hellenistic times, the impressive Imperial Gate and the Marble Door. If you want to make the most of your visit, private tours are available on request. Our receptionists at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Asia will be happy to help you organize this during your visit to the city.