Turkey’s iconic Hagia Sophia mosque to charge $28 entry fee for tourists

Turkey’s Hagia Sophia mosque began charging tourists nearly $28 on Monday for entrance to the landmark site.

The UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its blue-tiled interior, will no longer allow free admission to foreigners, the Turkish tourism ministry announced.

The former museum-turned mosque has a new entrance in front of the Topkapi Palace Museum open for tourists.

Tunnel entrance at Turkey's Hagia Sophia. (File photo)
Tunnel entrance at Turkey’s Hagia Sophia.

The Hagia Sophia was a museum space from 1934 until 2020 when Turkey decided to change it to a mosque. Various historical reports say the mosque with byzantine architecture was an Orthodox cathedral decades ago.

“With the new application that will start on January 15 at the Hagia Sophia Mosque, tourists will be able to visit the mosque without disturbing the prayer environment,” the ministry said in a statement.

The entrance to the mosque will be “provided in a controlled manner through the tunnel and entrance ramp where visitors will be transported to the gallery floor and exited via the ramp in the northeast direction,” the statement said.

“Tourists who come to the gallery section will be able to see the sanctuary floor of the mosque and the Ottoman Period annexes, pass through the heaven-hell gate, and examine the Byzantine Period mosaics in this section,” it added.

Security cameras, fire detection and emergency announcement systems were reportedly installed in the mosque along the tour route. Cleaning and conservation work on the marble coverings and wooden railings on the gallery floor of the mosque was also carried out by restorers and conservators.

Visitors will also have access to a headset guide with QR codes where information on the sight is available in 23 languages.

People visit the Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 10, 2020. (Reuters)
People visit the Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 10, 2020.

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