PhotoSecrets Hagia Sophia

A Photographer’s Guide

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A Photographer’s Guide
Andrew Hudson


Hagia Sophia from Sultan Ahmet Park left with fountain and garden in morningDennis Jarvis/Flickr

Hagia Sophia

54 views to photograph
Hagia Sophia from Sultan Ahmet Park with fountain at nightMoyan Brenn/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from Sultan Ahmet Park with fountain pool at nightTTstudio/Shutterstock
Hagia Sophia view 3Tatiana Popova/Shutterstock
Hagia Sophia view 4Artur Bogacki/Shutterstock
Hagia Sophia Dome cupolaBrian Jeffery Beggerly/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia ChandelierWissam Shekhani/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from Sultan Ahment Park with fountain in afternoonMe Stesso/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from Sultan Ahmet Park left with gardenMattias Hill/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from Sultan Ahmet Park with fountain at sunriseJen Supaph/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Interior upper level 3Facemepls/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia interior view looking up 1Altay Ozcan/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia interior view looking up 2Serafita/Wikipedia
Dome of Tomb of Sultan Selim IIMogadir/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia CourtyardMarkusmark/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Deesis mosaicEdal Anton Lefterov/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Detail of capitalMuffinn/Flickr
Hagia Sophia from Sultan Ahmet Park with fountain and garden in afternoonAlexander Klink/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from the Bosphorus at sunsetBengoetzinger/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia PassagewayJorge Láscar/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Sundial in courtyardTill Niermann/Wikipedia
Dome of Tomb of Sultan Murad IIIMogadir/Wikipedia
Hagia Sofia Imperial GateStegop/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Empress Zoë mosaicPhotographer: Myrabella/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from Sultan Ahmet Park leftOsvaldo Gago/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from the Galata Tower with Golden Horn afternoonCarlos Delgado/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia MihrabRadomil/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia rearJosep Renalias/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia ŞadirvanGryffindor/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Tomb of Sultan Selim IIMogadir/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia western upper galleryGeorges Jansoone Jojan/Wikipedia
Dome of Tomb of Sultan Mustafa I and Ibrahim IMogadir/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Commenos mosaicPhotographer: Myrabella/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Crescent on domeJosé Luiz/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Diagonal stairsDerzsi Elekes Andor/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Former baptistryArild Vågen/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from Seven Hills RestaurantArild Vågen/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from Sultan Ahment Park with fountain in morningPaasikivi/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from Sultan Ahmet Park left highSaperaudcommonswiki/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from the Bosphorus morningMatthias Süßen/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from the Galata Tower afternoonVassillis/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia from the Galata Tower sunsetMark Ahsmann/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia marble door between western and southern galleryGryffindor/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia MinaretsFreedom’s Falcon/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Mosaic Virgin and ChildPhotograph: Myrabella/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia remains of the basilica built by Theodosius IIGeorges Jansoone/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia seen from the terrace of the AND HotelMarion Schneider & Christoph Aistleitner/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Southwestern entrance mosaicSomeone/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Tomb of Sultan Murad IIIMogadir/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia Imperial gate mosaicsPhotograph: Myrabella/Wikipedia
Hagia Sophia marble jarMarkusmark/Wikipedia


Map of Hagia Sophia


About PhotoSecrets



A great travel photo­graph requires you to be in the right place at the right time to capture that special moment. Professional photo­graphers have a short-hand phrase for this: “F8 and be there.”

There are countless books that can help you with photo­graphic technique, the “F8” portion of that equation. But until now, there’s been little help for the other, more critical portion of that equation, the “be there” part. To find the right spot, you had to expend lots of time and shoe leather to essentially re-invent the wheel.

In my career as a professional travel photo­grapher, well over half my time on location is spent seeking out the good angles. Andrew Hudson’s PhotoSecrets does all that legwork for you, so you can spend your time photo­graphing instead of wandering about. I wish I had one of these books for every city I photo­graph on assignment.

PhotoSecrets can help you capture the most beautiful sights with a minimum of hassle and a maximum of enjoyment. So grab your camera, find your favorite PhotoSecrets spots, and “be there!”

About Bob Krist

Bob Krist has photo­graphed assignments for National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Travel/­Holiday, Smithsonian, and Islands. He won “Travel photo­grapher of the Year” from the Society of American Travel Writers in 1994, 2007, and 2008.

For National Geographic, Bob has led round-the-world tours and a traveling lecture series. His book In Tuscany with Frances Mayes spent a month on The New York Times’ bestseller list and his how-to book Spirit of Place was hailed by American Photo­grapher magazine as “the best book about travel photo­graphy we’ve ever read.”

The parents of three sons, Bob and his wife live in New Hope, Pennsylvania.


Thank you for reading PhotoSecrets. As a fellow fan of travel and photo­graphy, I hope this guide will help you quickly find the most visually stunning places, and come home with equally stunning photo­graphs.

PhotoSecrets is designed to show you all the best sights. Flick through, see the classic views, and use them as a departure point for your own creations. Flick through, enjoy the photos, and see which places inspire you. Get comp­osition ideas, lighting tips, and a brief history. It’ll be like traveling with a location scout and a pro-photo­grapher by your side.

The idea for PhotoSecrets came during a trip to Thailand, when I tried to find the exotic beach used in the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun. None of the guidebooks I had showed a picture, so I thought a guidebook of postcard photos would be useful for us photographers. If you have any ides for improvements, please send me an email at

Now, start exploring — and take lots of photos!

About Andrew Hudson

Originally an engineer, Andrew Hudson started PhotoSecrets in 1995. His first book won the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best First Book and his second won the Grand Prize in the National Self-Published Book Awards.

Andrew has published 15 nationally-distributed photo­graphy books. He has photo­graphed assignments for Macy’s, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Men’s Health and Seventeen, and been a location scout for Nikon. His photos and articles have appeared in Alaska Airlines, National Geographic Traveler, Shutterbug Outdoor and Nature photo­graphy, Where, and Woman’s World.

Andrew has a degree in Computer Engineering from Manchester University and a certificate in copyright law from Harvard Law School. Born in Redditch, England, he lives with his wife, two kids, and two chocolate Labs, in San Diego, California.


At a Glance

Name:Hagia Sophia
GPS:41.008548, 28.979938
Turkish:Ayasofya (Ἁγία Σοφία)
Latin:Sancta Sophia
Designer:Isidore of Miletus
Anthemius of Tralles
Type:Christian Church Cathedral (537-1054)
Greek Orthodox Cathedral (1054–1204)
Roman Catholic Cathedral (1204–1261)
Greek Orthodox Cathedral (1261–1453)
Imperial Mosque (1453–1931)
Museum (1935–present)
Material:Ashlar, brick
Height:55 m (180 ft)

Hagia Sophia from the Αγία Σοφία,, “Holy Wisdom"; Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia; Ayasofya) was a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica (church), later an imperial mosque, and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its construction in 537 AD, and until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was later converted into an Ottoman mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. Famous in particular for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have “changed the history of architecture.” It remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the previous two having been destroyed by rioters. It was designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. The church was dedicated to the Wisdom of God, the Logos, the second person of the Trinity, its patronal feast taking place on 25 December, the commemoration of the birth of the incarnation of the Logos in Christ. Although sometimes referred to as Sancta Sophia (as though it were named after Sophia the Martyr), sophia being the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word for wisdom, its full name in Greek is Ναὸς της Αγίας τοῦ Θεού Σοφίας, Naos tēs Hagias tou Theou Sophias, “Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God.” The church contained a large collection of relics and featured, among other things, a 15-metre (49 ft) silver iconostasis. The focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years, the building witnessed the excommunication of Patriarch Michael I Cerularius on the part of Humbert of Silva Candida, the papal envoy of Pope Leo IX in 1054, an act that is commonly considered the start of the East–West Schism.

In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Empire under Mehmed the Conqueror, who ordered this main church of Orthodox Christianity converted into a mosque. Although some parts of the city of Constantinople were falling into disrepair, the cathedral was maintained with an amount of money set aside for this purpose. Nevertheless, the Christian cathedral made a strong impression on the new Ottoman rulers and they decided to convert it into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and other relics were destroyed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints and angels were also destroyed or plastered over. Islamic features — such as the mihrab, minbar, and four minarets — were added. It remained a mosque until 1931, when it was closed to the public for four years. It was re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey. Hagia Sophia was, as of 2014, the second-most visited museum in Turkey, attracting almost 3.3 million visitors annually. According to data released by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, Hagia Sophia was Turkey’s most visited tourist attraction in 2015.

From its initial conversion until the construction of the nearby Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque of Istanbul) in 1616, it was the principal mosque of Istanbul. The Byzantine architecture of the Hagia Sophia served as inspiration for many other Ottoman mosques, such as the aforementioned mosque, the Şehzade Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Rüstem Pasha Mosque and the Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex.