A TOURIST attraction dating back more than 1,500 years will no longer be free to visit.
New rules will see tourists charged €25 (£22) to enter instead.
Hagia Sophia, one of Turkey’s most popular tourist attractions, was built as a Byzantine cathedral in 537AD.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site has been free to visit since 2020, after it was designated as a mosque by the local government.
However, new rules will now see worshippers enter via a separate entrance, with tourists visiting via a tunnel with new ticket booths.
Tourists will also only have access to the gallery floor, to view the Harim floor, Heaven and Hell Gate and the Byzantine mosaics.
Turkey officials said the new fee is based on recommendations from UNSECO to protect the building and reduce crowds.
Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said.: “Starting from January 15, 2024, we are implementing a visitor management plan in line with UNESCO’s guidance.
“This strategic move aims to ensure the preservation of the Hagia Sophia Mosque and its square as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.”
The attraction is highly rated, with more than 33,000 five-star reviews on TripAdvisor.
One recent visit wrote: “A place of incredible beauty. A place of such majesty that it is difficult to compare with others around the world.”
A second agreed: “The highlight of our visit to Istanbul.”
But some have not been impressed by the new fee.
One tourist wrote: “Beautiful place but way too expensive for what was offered.
“Paid €25 and only allowed on the upper walkway. Not good value at all…disappointed.”
Another wrote: “The ticket is too expensive, very very high price for the experience that the museum gives inside.
“It is worth just looking at it from the outside and not entering.”
More than 3.5million people visit the attraction every year when in Istanbul.
Here’s everything you need to know about a holiday to Istanbul.
Otherwise here are some cheap all-inclusive holidays to Turkey you can book.
And Hagia Sophia is not the only tourist attraction bringing in new charges.
Greece is introducing a new holiday tax and it could cost tourists hundreds.
Brits staying at a five-star hotel will have to pay £8.61 a night – meaning your two week holiday could be another £120 more expensive.
And Venice is to trial a fee, which will see day-trippers paying €5 (£4.35) to visit the historical Italian centre.
In the UK, Manchester tourists have to pay a £1 tourist tax, with both and St Ives in Cornwall considering a tourist tax too.