Hagia Sophia to Introduce Admission Fees for Tourists Starting January 2024

"UNESCO was not bothered that we turned Hagia Sophia into a mosque", says Turkish Minister

Tourists planning to visit Hagia Sophia in Istanbul will be required to pay admission fees, beginning in January 2024, as announced by the country's culture minister on Tuesday.

Hagia Sophia, the 1,500-year-old Byzantine cathedral, was transformed from a museum into a mosque by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2020. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and draws more than 3.5 million visitors annually.

Culture Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy unveiled plans to implement a visitor management system at the Hagia Sophia mosque aimed at enhancing the quality and safety of visits during a press conference held at the Ataturk Cultural Center on Tuesday.

Ersoy clarified that Turkish citizens visiting the mosque for worship would be granted free admission through one designated entrance, while tourists would be directed to another entrance where they would be required to pay an admission fee. The specific amount of the fee and the means by which visitors will demonstrate their purpose for the visit were not disclosed.

The changes are scheduled to take effect on January 15.

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