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The Hagia Sophia Dress Code Explained!

The Hagia Sophia Dress Code Explained!

When we talk to people about traveling to Istanbul perhaps the most common question we get is regarding the Hagia Sophia Dress Code. For me no trip to Istanbul is complete without making a visit to the stunning Hagia Sophie but it does confuse people in regards to what to wear. I think this is down to the buildings unique history of being used as a mosque, church and a national museum. Therefore in this guide we will round up the Hagia Sophia Dress code alongside some outfit inspiration and information for your visit. 

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Hagia Sophia Dress Code

Interior of Hagia Sophia - What to wear at Hagia Sophia Istanbul
What to wear at Hagia Sophia Istanbul

One of the reasons that people are confused by the Hagia Sophia Dress code is because up until 2020 it didn’t have as strict a dress code. That is because up until 2020 the building was being used a national museum.

However in August 2020, the President Erdogan repealed the buildings status as a museum and reverted its use to being a mosque. Therefore the dress code became similar to other famous mosques such as the Blue Mosque and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Overall the Hagia Sophia dress code requires visitors to dress modestly. This includes: 

  • keeping yourself covered to the ankles  
  • keeping your shoulders covered
  • no overly tight or revealing clothing 
  • nothing see-through.

You are also not permitted to wear hats inside of the mosque or try to use a hat instead of a head scarf to cover your hair in the case of ladies.

And these rules apply to both men and women. For some reason people tend to think rules are religious sites (i.e. at churches in Italy. such as the Vatican City or temples in Thailand or Bali), only apply to women but this really isn’t the case.

So how does this dress code translate to what to wear to in the Hagia Sophia itself?

What to Wear to Hagia Sophia for Women

Woman outside Hagia Sophia - Hagia Sophia Dress Code
Hagia Sophia Dress Code

The Hagia Sophia dress code for women means that you must be covered and modest as you would need at any mosque. Also it is one of the few places in Turkey where you will be required to cover your head. 

We often get a lot of questions about whether you need to wear an abaya at Hagia Sophia . I think the reason for this is because you see many people in photos wearing them. And the truth is you do not have to wear an abaya if you are appropriately dressed. 

This means that you must keep covered as well as not having overly revealing, see through or tight clothing. 

Therefore the best things that you could wear to the Hagia Sophia as a woman that would meet the dress code include:

  • A Maxi Dress – this would need to be down to your ankle with no slit that reveals the leg. Have long sleeves and not be low on the back or your chest. 
  • A Maxi Skirt – this would need to be down to your ankle with no slit that reveals the leg.
  • Loose Cool Cotton or Linen Trousers
  • A Blouse – It would need to be loose and long sleeved and not revealing on the chest. And although we recommend light weigh fabrics the blouse should not be sheer even when hit by light. 
  • And of course a pashmina that can be used as a head scarf. 

Please note if you do forget your head scarf these are available for free rental at the entrance but we recommend traveling with your own.

Also if you are visiting the Hagia Sophia and Istanbul in Winter you will want to add jeans and sweaters and coats to this list as the weather in Istanbul during Winter can be cold and will require layers. 

What to Wear to the Hagia Sophia for Men

The Hagia Sophia Dress Code for men means that like for women you must be covered and conservative in your attire. 

My husband recommends cool cotton ankle length trousers and a long sleeve shirt for summer but jeans and sweaters in the winter. 

Shorts are not ever permissible for men or women at the Hagia Sophia. Full length trousers should be worn instead of shorts.

Best Shoes for the Hagia Sophia

As with any mosque, you are required to remove your shoes to enter the mosque building. Therefore for this reason we recommend wearing slip on shoes. 

We either choose to wear slip on slip off sneakers such as Go Walks by Sketchers when we visit Istanbul during Winter or after the rain (the marble in the mosque can get VERY slippy) or in the summer we wear sandals with arch support.

How to dress Children for a visit to Hagia Sophia

It is worth noting that small children do not need to adhere to the same regulations as adults who it comes to dress code if they are yet to hit puberty. 

FAQS About Hagia Sophia Dress Code

Woman in front of Hagia Sophia - What to wear to Hagia Sophia Dress Code
What to wear to Hagia Sophia Dress Code

Can you wear shorts to the Hagia Sophia?

No you can’t wear shorts to the mosque. You need to be covered to the ankle so shorts are not permitted to be worn at the Mosque. 

Can you wear jeans to Hagia Sophia?

Yes you can wear jeans to the Hagia Sophia providing that they are not ripped and go down to your ankle. However we would not recommend skinny jeans for the Hagia Sophia as this goes against the ethos of the rules. 

Also consider that in the summer jeans may be very hot to wear at the mosque. However in Winter I would say jeans are a great choice. 

Can you wear ripped jeans to Hagia Sophia?

No you can’t wear ripped jeans to the Hagia Sophia unless you wear an abaya over the top. 

Can you wear skinny jeans to Hagia Sophia?

You shouldn’t wear skinny jeans to the mosque unless you plan to wear an abaya on top as these are too tight fitting to be appropriate mosque wear. 

Do you have more questions about the Hagia Sophia Dress code? Leave any questions below and we will answer as soon as we can.