What To Expect
The church of Hagia Sofia, originally constructed in the 6th century, represents the highest achievements of the Byzantine Empire. Considered to be one of the architectural wonders of the world, its light-infused interior, massive dome, and mosaics have inspired and challenged scholars for centuries. During this three-hour walk of the Hagia Sofia and surrounding context we'll unfold the many layers of this structure, from its Roman beginnings to its Ottoman resurrection.
In order to fully appreciate and understand the historical context of the Hagia Sofia, we'll begin our walk with the ancient Roman hippodrome (running track) and other remnants of the Roman empire that are located nearby. Here we will discuss the rise of Constantinople in the 4th century. Such elements of Roman engineering and city building as cisterns and sewers still remain in this area, which will allow us to talk about Roman urban planning and the foundations that were laid for the Byzantine Empire.
We then move to the Hagia Sofia (the church of holy wisdom) itself. Using the building as a kind of text, we will read the history of its construction, the rule of the emperor Justinian, and how the building came to be a major center for the Eastern Orthodox faith for nearly a millennium. We will pay particular attention to the architectural design and engineering of the structure, including its innovative dome, one of the largest in the world. We will also spend significant time dealing with the exquisite mosaics, some of which date to the 10th century and are considered among the world's art treasures.
We will conclude by turning our attention to the Ottoman reinvention and rescue of the building in the 15th and 16th centuries, when it was converted into a mosque but without significant rebuilding. We will emerge at the end of our walk with a deeper appreciation of this most singular building and its influence throughout history.
Meals and drinks
Tips and gratuities
Optional activity costs
Entrance fees are 20 lira for Hagia Sophia at the time of publishing. Prices are subject to change without notice.
Walks are held rain or shine with some variations to accommodate the weather.
All our card payments are protected by thawte to give you peace of mind.
1 hour and 30 minutes
2 days / 1 night