Travel tips you can trust
in Istanbul is special
Modern-day architects marvel at how their 6th century counterparts could design the immense Hagia Sophia and its "impossibly" high-and-wide domed ceiling.
532 to 537 AD
The structure was built by the Christian Emperor Justinian I as a Byzantine church. It served as a Byzantine church for the next 900 years.
Beginning in 1453
The Islamic-faithed Ottomans took over Constantinople (now Istanbul).
They wasted little time in converting the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. It served the Muslims for almost 500 years.
During this time, the Ottomans painted over the Christian mosaics - and erected the four defining minarets we see today.
1934 to present
Turkey changed the Hagia Sophia's status from mosque to museum and uncovered the priceless Byzantine mosaics.
Location in Turkey
In other Turkey areas