Beginning on January 15, 2024, a new regulation will be enforced for visitors to Hagia Sophia. This measure, introduced by Turkish President Erdogan, mandates an entrance fee for accessing the historic site in Istanbul. According to Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Turkish citizens will continue to enjoy free admission, while all other guests will be required to purchase tickets. This decision is part of a comprehensive visitor management strategy aimed at enhancing the quality and safety of visits.
“We are in the process of implementing a visitor management system for Hagia Sophia, which will result in improved visit quality and safety,” emphasized Mr. Ersoy during a press conference held at the Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM).
Elaborating on this decision, Ersoy explained, “Hagia Sophia holds a significant position as one of the world’s most important cultural and tourist destinations. To protect this invaluable structure and ensure an enhanced visitor experience, we have introduced an entrance fee for foreign citizens visiting Hagia Sophia, beginning January 15, 2024. Turkish citizens, however, will continue to enjoy free access for visits and worship.” The Turkish minister underlined that this decision aligns with recommendations from UNESCO.
Ersoy also shared that changes to the entrances of Hagia Sophia have already been planned to alleviate crowding and potential conflicts between Turkish citizens coming for worship and foreign tourists.
Foreign visitors will use the upper gate/arcade, located near the Topkapi Palace, as their entrance and exit point. Ersoy noted that ticket pricing details have yet to be finalized.
In 1934, Kemal Atatürk transformed Hagia Sophia into a museum. However, in the summer of 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to revert Hagia Sophia into an Islamic mosque sparked significant reactions both in Greece and around the world.