After Hagia Sophia, Hagia Irene is Istanbul's second-largest Byzantine church. Hagia Irene, unlike other Byzantine churches like Hagia Sophia, was not converted into a mosque. After Hagia Sophia, Hagia Irene is known to be the most important Roman temple in Istanbul.

After the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, Hagia Irene was included in the gardens of the Topkapi Palace. The church's structure has basically remained untouched, as it was not converted into a mosque after the conquest. It was originally used as a storehouse for the army. Many years later, Hagia Irene was used as a Military Museum in Turkey, from 1908 to 1949.


The Story Of Hagia Irene

Penelope, a passionate Christian, is said to have attempted to introduce the Roman people to Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The pagan Romans, on the other hand, tormented the woman in order to force her to submit to Paganism. They tossed her into a well full of snakes first. Penelope was then accused of witchcraft because the snakes did not kill her all night. She was stoned terribly. They, later, tied her to the horses and dragged her for many hours. After witnessing that she was still alive and consistent with her religion after all the tortures, they declared her to be a saint and committed to Christianity. Emperor Constantine the Great, as a result, named her St. Hagia Irene, which means “holy peace”, and built a church in her honor. 

The Importance Of Hagia Irene Today

Aside from its incredibly rich historical heritage, Hagia Irene Church has a lot to offer to visitors. First of all, the Hagia Irene Museum is one of the most important components of Christian history and is a very essential part of Christian tourism around the world. The former church hosts numerous cultural programs and exhibitions. Hagia Irene is even used as a concert hall for classical music concerts due to its excellent acoustic. Since 1980, many concerts of the Istanbul International Music Festival have taken place in the Hagia Irene Museum.

Another importance of Hagia Irene is that it was Constantinople the Great’s first church. Hagia Irene is also the only Byzantine church that has survived the Ottoman period without being turned into a mosque, so, it is unique in that sense. Legendary Hagia Irene now functions as a museum and a place for social and cultural gatherings.

You might consider removing Hagia Irene from your long list of places to visit in Istanbul because you already added the Hagia Sophia to the list. However, Hagia Irene provides a one-of-a-kind experience in the bustling environment of Istanbul's historical sites. You might want to book a guided Hagia Irene tour to ensure that you have enough time to see all of the sites and places you imagined seeing. Do not miss the once-in-a-lifetime experience in the Hagia Irene Museum. You will be moved and amazed by its stories

Frequently Asked Question

Are there other attractions to visit around the Hagia Irene?
There are numerous attractions around the Hagia Irene, such as Topkapı Palace and Hagia Sophia. There are also lots of shops and cafés you could visit around.
Where is the Hagia Irene Museum located in Istanbul?
The Hagia Irene Museum is located in Sultanahmet, Fatih
What time is the Hagia Irene Museum open?
The Hagia Irene Museum opens at 9 am. You could visit it until 4.30 pm. The Hagia Irene Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Are taking pictures allowed inside the Hagia Irene?
Yes, you can take pictures in the Hagia Irene Museum.
How much does it cost to visit the Hagia Irene Museum?
The entrance fee for the Hagia Irene Museum is currently 80 Turkish Liras.