Located on the historic peninsula in the Sultanahmet region, Hagia Sophia is one of the oldest and most important landmarks of Istanbul. Originally built in the 6th century as a Greek Orthodox cathedral of the Byzantine Empire, the building was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman years and later into a museum in modern day Turkey. The building sits centrally in Sultanahmet with a commanding view of the entrance to the Bosphorus.
You can hardly appreciate the size and splendour of Hagia Sophia from the outside when you are standing next to it. Inside, visitors are stunned by its 32-meter diameter dome, its marbles and columns, and large beautifully preserved mosaics. The building today also has four minarets added by the Ottomans during its conversion to an imperial mosque after the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. The Turkish name for Hagia Sophia is “Ayasofya”, meaning Holy Sophia.