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Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia

I'm considering taking the Turnkey tour but have questions about the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Does anyone know when the renovation of the Blue Mosque will be finished and can you still tour Hagia Sophia?

Posted by
3640 posts

can you still tour Hagia Sophia?
Yes. Both the Rick Steves Best of Turkey and Best of Istanbul tours include the Hagia Sophia as part of the itinerary.

When we went in May/June, the Blue Mosque was still under renovation and not included on either tour. You can go inside on your own, outside of prayer times, and see some of the interior, depending on the stage of work at the time.

Posted by
1 posts

The Turkish government and the Ecumenical Patriarchate have been battling over the fate of Hagia Sophia for years. Turkey has insisted that it has the right to convert the site into a mosque, a claim that Patriarch Bartholomew has strongly disputed.

The dispute has stirred up strong emotions in the Orthodox world and has led to a deterioration in relations between the Patriarchate and the Turkish government.

The Turkish government wants to convert the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque, but Patriarch Bartholomew has strongly objected, saying that the building is an “ecumenical church” that belongs to the whole Orthodox world.

The Patriarchate has also accused the Turkish government of trying to “Islamize” the Hagia Sophia and has called on the international community to intervene.

The Turkish government has rejected the Patriarchate’s claims and has accused it of trying to stir up religious tensions.

The dispute has led to a deterioration in relations between the Patriarchate and the Turkish government, and has also stirred up strong emotions in the Orthodox world.

Posted by
15174 posts

All that above, and the H S. Is open to the general public for tours.

Posted by
412 posts

I was there yesterday, and the construction continues, and I felt it was a complete 100% waste of time to enter it. I got in line with 200-300 people ahead of me. The line moved fairly steadily. They check you are not wearing short pants or a skirt, then you go in, and you have to take your shoes off and walk on some outdoor carpet. Then follow the crown and suddenly you have to put your shoes back on as you descend some slight steps. There is no bench or chair of any kind.... unless you walk in socked feet down the stairs across the wet ground and find one bench and wait for the other tourists to finish.

It is a spectacular building from the outside. But late afternoon the sun was behind it, so the building was backlit and photos were not good. I walked all the way around the front, but there were some restaurants, crappy 2 story buildings then a hill descending toward the sea, so I could never get a bead on the well lit front to get a picture.

Posted by
1583 posts

I was in Istanbul in September.

There was a very long line to enter Hagia Sophia, but it moved very quickly. Within about 20 minutes I got inside.

I didn't bother going to the Blue Mosque.

In my opinion, the most beautiful mosques I visited in Istanbul were Süleymaniye, Fatih, and Rustem Pasha. Hagia Sophia is magnificent, but I appreciated that the other three mosques were far less crowded with tourists (i.e. people like me).

Posted by
155 posts

I was there in mid-November 2022. There was a very long wait for Hagia Sophia, 1-2 hours, we were told. Our guide insisted that they close the line periodically but then open it back up whenever and then it moves along. That is exactly what happened. Hagia Sophia was worth the 45-minute wait.

Hagia Sophia IS now a mosque, not a museum.

We were told that the Blue Mosque was under renovation and we wouldn't be able to see much. Other tours that we heard about were very disappointed and felt it was a waste of time.

Posted by
394 posts

I'm just here to say the tour is totally worth it, without the Blue Mosque (I went in October 2022).

Posted by
561 posts

The last I heard, the Blue Mosque is scheduled to re-open around April 21. When I was there a year or so ago, it was open but very little of the interior was visible. I heard, however, that they completely closed it several months ago to speed up the renovation.