Turkey has unveiled a new policy for managing visitors at the Hagia Sophia, which will include an admission charge for foreign tourists starting January 15. Minister of Culture and Tourism, Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, shared that the Hagia Sophia is undergoing extensive restoration to preserve its historical essence.
UNESCO-driven plan for preservation
The visitor management plan, which adheres to UNESCO's recommendations, is designed to improve visit quality and safety, with a focus on preserving the historical value of the site. Minister Ersoy announced that this plan will be activated from January 15, 2024, to maintain the Hagia Sophia Mosque and its square as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Entrance fees and Implementation details
The plan will introduce separate entrances for worshipers and tourists, affecting only foreign tourists with a new entrance fee, the amount of which will be determined before the implementation date. The aim is to manage visitor traffic better, reduce overcrowding, and protect the site's historical and cultural significance
Hagia Sophia's stability threatened by visitor volume
An expert from Turkey has raised alarms about the potential collapse of the Hagia Sophia due to the overwhelming number of visitors it receives. Ilber Ortayli, writing for the Hürriyet daily, highlighted the severe strain placed on the monument as it draws in three million pilgrims each year, not counting tourists.
Damage from conversion to mosque
Ortayli pointed out that since the Hagia Sophia's conversion into a mosque, the structure has suffered considerable damage. He suggests that even a relatively small annual visitor count of 20-30 thousand people, which includes experts and officials, is too much for the monument's longevity.
Furthermore, Ortayli has voiced criticism over changes made to accommodate the building's function as a mosque. He specifically argues against the installation of facilities such as toilets and fountains, which are typical for a mosque's daily needs but are unsuitable for the historical edifice of the Hagia Sophia.
Urgent need for restoration
The historian has issued a warning that the Hagia Sophia must be closed off for vital restoration work to avert a possible collapse. He emphasizes the urgency of this intervention to preserve the monument's structural integrity.
- Thailand waives visa for Indian and Taiwanese tourists
To boost tourism, Thailand is offering visa-free entry to travelers from India and Taiwan until May 2024
- Mysteries of the Palm Islands: undiscovered facts about the "Dubai miracle"
Discover amazing and little-known facts about the legendary symbol of luxury and innovation - the Palm Islands in Dubai
- Poland and Czech Republic strengthen border control in response to migration crisis
In light of the increasing illegal migration, Poland and Czech Republic are implementing temporary border checks on the border with Slovakia