Built in 537AD, this monumental building has a tremendous history. Aya Sofya was originally intended to be a Christian church. Crowning of Byzantine emperors was taking place there until 1453, when the whole city of Constantinople fell under the Ottoman Empire. With its capital under Ottoman Turk, the Byzantine Empire fell apart. Constantinople became Istanbul and the Aya Sofya church had become a mosque. Almost five centuries later, in 1935, Turkish government led by Kemal Ataturk turned Aya Sofya into a museum, which today is one of the greatest monuments of the world’s civilization and is protected by UNESCO.
The biggest reminder of Byzantine culture stays 50 meters tall in the center of Istanbul. The pillars supporting the dome are hidden so it looks like the top of the church is hanging from the sky. Finest materials that could’ve been found are used in the construction of this building. Stone was brought from as far as South Africa and the proof for the quality is that Aya Sofya is still standing proud in all its glory. Many different cultures have left their trail on Aya Sofya, so now we can see Christian frescoes and Islamic ornaments in one place of worship.
Tram leads to the Istanbul quarter of Sultanahmet. From there is just impossible to miss Aya Sofya.
The entrance to the Aya Sofya museum is free for children under 12, while adults have to pay 25 Turkish Lira.