In the past 12 years, one of the world’s most vital cultural and historical heritage sites, Hagia Sophia in Turkey has welcomed almost 31 million people.
Since 1935, the site of Hagia Sophia has been used as a museum and is seen as one of the architectural wonders in the world. Today Hagia Sophia benefits from huge interest in Istanbul, and in the first half of this year has played host to approximately 1.8 million visitors.
By the end of the year, according to the Demiroren News Agency (DHA), the number of visitors is predicted to exceed 3 million.
Why do people visit Istanbul?
As of August 2019, Istanbul has experienced a boom in tourism. Best known for its culture, good food and rich history, almost ten million tourists from 200 countries have chosen Istanbul for their holiday destination so far this year.
Tourists are expected to be higher than the residents living in Istanbul for the first time ever. It is predicted that by the end of this year that 15.5 million visitors will have visited Istanbul.
Historic Building – Hagia Sophia
Located on the historic peninsula, the neighbourhood of Sultanahmet draws huge crowds and is a must see for tourists visiting Istanbul. One of the most common sites is the long queue of tourists waiting at the ticket booths to visit Hagia Sophia and capture the beauty of the historical building on film.
Visitor numbers to Hagia Sophia
In the 11 years from 2007 – 2018, 30.95 million visitors have flocked to Hagia Sophia. In 2014, 3.5 million tourists visited, breaking all records for visitor numbers in a single year. The site was almost as popular for the 6 years from 2009 – 2015 prior to undergoing its most challenging years between 2016 and 2017 following attacks on Istanbul. Last year visitor numbers picked up again with 2.92 million visitors during the year.
The History of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
During the Christian Byzantine Empire in the sixth century, Hagia Sophia was constructed as a building for the Greek Orthodox Church. In 1453, the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul converted Hagia Sophia into an Imperial mosque. In the secular single party rule in 1935, the structure of the mosque was changed into a museum. However, due to huge support on social media discussions are ongoing to restore Hagia Sophia back to a place of worship.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
For the first time in 85 years, Hagia Sophia was granted the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site after the Quran was recited from the building. A year later religious officiates began broadcasting and hosting religious readings in the holy time known as Ramadan. On the anniversary of the first reading to the Prophet Muhammed, people were called to the site to pray.
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