The Museum of Hagia Sophia


Hagia Sophia means “Holy Wisdom” in Greek. It was first built in what was then Byzantium in the year 360 as a basilica with a wooden roof. That building was destroyed by fire during an uprising in the year 404, after which it was rebuilt. It was once again destroyed by fire during another uprising in the year 532. Finally two architects named Isidoros of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles were charged with rebuilding the basilica; it was consecrated in 537, and that is the structure that exists today. In total, Hagia Sophia served as a church for more than a millenium, until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 when it was converted into a mosque. Sultan Mehmed II, known as “The Conqueror,” led the first prayer at Hagia Sophia and established his first pious foundation with it. The revenues of numerous neighboring enterprises, notably the inner bazaar, were subsequently donated to this foundation. Overall, the revenues of 1350 shops, 51 public baths, 987 houses, 32 boza (a fermented wheat or millet drink) houses, and 22 soup kitchens were earmarked for the support and maintenance of the building and the salaries of its staff. The name of the building was not changed by the Ottomans, and it was generally known as Cami-i Ayasofya-i Kebir (the Great Mosque of Hagia Sophia). Nearly twenty more churches in İstanbul were converted into mosques during the Ottoman period. The last major milestone in the building’s history took place in 1934 when, after having served as a mosque for 481 years, it was converted into a museum.


Sultanahmet Mh., Ayasofya Meydanı, Fatih - İstanbul
P: +90 212 522 1750