Turkey offers you with wide range of tourist attraction. This country is full with antique cities, ruins from the Greek and Roman era, historical buildings, beautiful mosques, and natural beauties. If you have a holiday in Turkey, you must not miss Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. This museum boasts beauty and grandeur. The name Hagia Sophia means Holy Wisdom in English. It is also called Ayasofya by the locals. Some people also call it St. Sophia.
This museum is full of historical values. Originally, it is built as a church. It was built from 532 AD until 537 AD. From 537 until 1453, it was a church. Its original construction feature a massive dome, 15 m silver icostasis, and mosaic picturing the Virgin Mary, Jesus, saints, and angels.
When Constantinople or Istanbul was ruled by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, Hagia Sophia was turned into a Mosque. All the items that symbolize Christianity were removed or plastered over. In return, Islamic features were brought in this great building. Four minarets, mihrab, mimbar, and calligraphic panels were added. It was a mosque for almost 500 years.
In 1935, it was opened as a museum at the request of Kemal Ataturk. It was modernized in some ways. The prayer rug was removed so that you the beautiful marble flooring of this building. However, the calligraphic panels still remain. When you enter this museum, you will see deesis picturing the last judgment with Jesus standing between the Virgin Mary and John. At the southern wing, you will see another deesis picturing the Emperor Comnesus II, Empress Eirene, and Virgin Mary holding Christ-child. Even though it is a museum, there is a muezzin who sings the call prayer in the afternoon from one of its minaret. There are also two special areas to pray each for Moslems and Christians.
Hagia Sophia has been through some restoration and conservation in order to maintain its beauty and originality. This museum is one of the most visited museums in Turkey. There are more than 30,000 visitors that visit Hagia Sophia in a year. A certain organization has urged the Turkish government to restore it back into a Church in 2007. Meanwhile, in 2010, there are campaigns that demand the government to turn Hagia Sophia into a Mosque.
To enter Hagia Sophia, you must pay about 30 TL. This museum opens from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm in the summer. In winter, it opens from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm. This museum opens from Tuesday to Sunday. It is closed on Mondays and on public holidays.