Turkey’s Culture Ministry has finalized its efforts to separate the entrances of worshipers and foreign tourists visiting Hagia Sophia.
Accordingly, the ticket office prepared for visitors will open on Jan. 15 and tourists will be charged an entrance fee of 25 euros (825 Turkish liras).
Ayasofya-i Kebir Camii Şerifi’nde yeni düzenleme #15Ocak'ta başlıyor.— T.C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı (@TCKulturTurizm) January 12, 2024
İbadete gelenler ile tarihî camiyi kültürel amaçlı ziyaret eden yabancıların girişleri ayrıldı.
Ziyaretçilerin bilet gişesi III. Ahmet Çeşmesi karşısına konumlandırıldı.
Ayrıntısı👉 https://t.co/gO9NwwlbAs pic.twitter.com/es7yDnTOj9
However, the information provided by the ministry blurred the distinction between foreign tourists wishing to enter Hagia Sophia for worship and domestic visitors wishing to visit the building for cultural purposes.
During the visit, tourists will be able to see the Byzantine period mosaics and the Ottoman period additions in the gallery section.
The 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia was originally built as a church during the Eastern Roman Empire era. Converted into a mosque during the Ottoman period, it was transformed into a museum with the proclamation of the republic, and both Byzantine artifacts and Ottoman additions began to be displayed together.
For a long time, political Islamist groups and parties have tried to convert one of Istanbul’s oldest buildings into a mosque again. Hagia Sophia, which served as a museum for 86 years, started to serve as a mosque again on July 10, 2020.
After it was opened for worship, the building could not handle the overcrowding and had many problems. In Hagia Sophia, whose hundreds of years old doors and artifacts were damaged by the visitors, pieces also started to fall from the dome.
Many experts argued that the building should be restricted for all kinds of visitors to preserve its integrity.