Aya İrini


Commissioned by Justinian in the 540s, this Byzantine church is almost exactly as old as its near neighbour, Aya Sofya. Used as an arsenal for centuries, it is now open to visitors but the entrance fee is exorbitant considering the fact that there are no exhibits inside.

The serenely beautiful interior and superb acoustics make this one of the most sought-after venues for the İstanbul International Music Festival. To attend a festival event here try your luck online at Biletix.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Sultanahmet attractions

1. Soğukçeşme Sokak

0.05 MILES

Running between the Topkapı Palace walls and Aya Sofya, this picturesque cobbled street is named after the Soğuk Çeşme (Cold Fountain) at its southern end…

2. Carpet Museum

0.08 MILES

Housed in an imaret (soup kitchen) added to the Aya Sofya complex in the 18th century, this museum is entered through a spectacular baroque gate and gives…

3. Imperial Gate

0.09 MILES

Topkapı Palace's Imperial Gate leads to the palace's First Court, known as the Court of the Janissaries or the Parade Court. You can go through the gate…

4. Caferağa Medresesi

0.09 MILES

This lovely little building tucked away in the shadow of Aya Sofya was designed by Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan on the orders of Cafer Ağa, Süleyman the…

5. İstanbul Archaeology Museums


The city's foremost archaeological museum is housed in three buildings close to Topkapı Palace. There are many highlights, but the sarcophagi from the…

6. Fountain of Sultan Ahmet III


This ornate rococo-style fountain outside the Imperial Gate to Topkapı Palace's First Court was built in 1728 by the sultan who so favoured tulips.

7. Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque

0.14 MILES

Right in the heart of İstanbul’s historic center, this sacred Byzantine building remains an important symbol of power.

8. Aya Sofya Tombs

0.14 MILES

Part of the Aya Sofya complex but entered via Babıhümayun Caddesi, these tombs are the final resting places of five 16th- and 17th-century sultans –…