Istanbul, Hagia Sophia with tourists

Hagia Sophia was visited by 6.5 million tourists in the last year

Declared a World Heritage Site, it is now two years since the reopening of Hagia Sophia of Istanbul as a mosque.

The Great Mosque of Hagia Sophia received more than 6.5 million visits from tourists in the last year, confirming itself as one of the most visited historical monuments in Istanbul precisely when yesterday marked the 2nd anniversary of its reopening as a mosque after 86 years operating as a museum.

Inaugurated in 537 by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish) was a Christian basilica and seat of the Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church for 916 years until the fall of Constantinople in 1453, which marked the end of more of 1,000 years of history of the ancient Eastern Roman Empire. After the Ottoman conquest, Sultan Mehmet II transformed the building into a mosque, later adding the current minarets as well as part of the interior decoration.

From then on, Hagia Sophia was a mosque for nearly five centuries -exactly 481 years- until in 1934 the government of the time decreed its conversion into a museum. However, on July 10, 2020, after a lawsuit filed by an association, a Turkish court announced that the measure taken in 1934 had been illegal, so the building was finally reopened again as a mosque on July 24, 2020. that same year.

One of the most visited places by tourists traveling to Turkey, Hagia Sophia was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. In the last year it has been receiving more than 120,000 visits a day from local and foreign tourists, to which must now be added many new converts who want to make the shahada or profession of faith in this emblematic temple: it is estimated that every day between 3 and 5 people come to Santa Sofía from all over the world to perform the ceremony in this place.