Hagia Sophia Imposes Entrance Fee for Foreign Tourists

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, the iconic historical monument in Istanbul, will now impose an entrance fee of 25 euros (825 Turkish liras) for foreign tourists.

The separation of entrances for worshipers and tourists has been finalized by Turkey's Culture Ministry, with the ticket office specifically designated for visitors set to open on January 15.

It is important to note that the ministry's information does not clearly distinguish between foreign tourists seeking to visit for worship purposes or domestic visitors interested in exploring the cultural significance of the site. Nonetheless, tourists will have the opportunity to admire the Byzantine period mosaics and Ottoman period additions displayed in the gallery section during their visit.

Built as a church during the Eastern Roman Empire era, the 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia later became a mosque during the Ottoman period. Eventually, it was converted into a museum with the establishment of the republic, housing artifacts from both the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

Over time, there have been calls from political Islamist groups and parties to transform Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. On July 10, 2020, it was reopened as a mosque after serving as a museum for 86 years. However, due to overcrowding and visitor-related damages, the building has faced numerous challenges, including the deterioration of centuries-old doors and artifacts, as well as falling pieces from the dome.

To preserve the integrity of Hagia Sophia, many experts have advocated for restricting access to the building for all types of visitors. The introduction of an entrance fee aims to address these concerns and generate revenue for the ongoing preservation efforts.

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