Hagia Irene (Aya Irini)
Built to replace an earlier church on the same site in the sixth century, the Hagia Irene Museum maintains the splendor of an important Byzantine place of worship. Notice the walls that are still decorated with historical mosaics and frescoes. The Hagia Irene, on the Topkapi Palace campus, often hosts classical music concerts.
Some small-group walking tours combine the Hagia Irene Museum with an exploration of Topkapi Palace and other sights in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood, such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Grand Bazaar.
Things to Know Before You Go
Hagia Irene is a must-visit for Byzantine history buffs.
The museum’s entrance fee is separate from the Topkapi Palace ticket.
Make sure to wear comfortable shoes for exploring the museum.
The Hagia Irene Museum is accessible to wheelchair users, though strollers are not permitted.
How to Get There
Hagia Irene is part of the Topkapi Palace complex, which is easily accessible by public transportation. It’s nearest to the Sultanahmet tram stop and only a short walk from the Eminonu ferry station; taxis are another convenient option.
When to Get There
The museum is open Wednesday through Monday from 9am to 4:45pm October through March, and to 6:45pm April through September; last entry is 45 minutes before close. It’s also open on most of the major national and religious Turkish holidays, though occasionally with shorter opening hours. The palace is often quite busy, so arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds.
A Lively Evening Venue
The Hagia Irene serves as a museum by day, but often opens for various cultural events, especially musical performances, in the evening. There are frequent classical music concerts under the domed ceilings of the church, thanks to the impressive acoustic qualities of the architecture. Performance schedules and tickets are available online.
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- Istanbul Archaeological Museums (Istanbul Arkeoloji Muzeleri)
- Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi)
- Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya)
- Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi)
- Gülhane Park (Gülhane Parki)
- Hippodrome (Sultanahmet Meydani)
- Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii)
- Arasta Bazaar
- Hodjapasha Culture Center (Hocapasa Kültür Merkezi)
- Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts (Türk Islam Eserleri Müzesi Hizmete)
- Sultanahmet District
- Great Palace Mosaic Museum
- Serpent Column (Yilani Sütun)
- Galata Bridge (Galata Köprüsü)
- Column of Constantine (Çemberlitaş Sütunu)