Go and see one of world’s most unique historic buildings with a visit to Hagia Sophia. Built in the 6th century as a church and later converted to a mosque in 1453, you’ll see features of both religions in this ornate museum in the heart of Istanbul.
Arriving at Hagia Sophia, you’ll be greeted by huge stone cannonballs used during the 15th century during a battle for the city. Going through the entrance, you’ll come into the ground level where you’ll see Islamic decor, including the marble mihrab and the minbar pulpit. This contrasts with Christian mosaics of Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Archangel Gabriel and a barely visible Archangel Michael.
After exploring the entrance and main hall, where emperors were crowned in ancient times, go up to the galleries. During its time as a mosque, this was where the women would sit during the service. Now you can take in the views to the nave below and the dome above, and see the spot where the empress’s throne once stood.
Going into the South Gallery, you’ll see more ornate Christian mosaics, including one of the Last Judgement, before heading outside to the mausoleums, the baptistery, and the remains of Theodosius II’s church which dates all the way back to 405.
Before leaving, go to the Imperial Door where you’ll see the ‘Weeping Column’. Legend has it if you put your finger into the hole, said to be blessed by St Gregory the Miracle Worker, it can help to heal physical ailments and illnesses.