Headscarves, coverings now required to enter Hagia Sophia

Visitors to the Hagia Sophia wearing clothing that exposes the legs or shoulders are now required to wear coveralls and female visitors must wear a headscarf to gain entrance, in line with typical dress codes for mosques, OdaTV reported on Friday.

Vistors who do not meet the dress code requirements are charged 5 Turkish liras ($0.68) for a headscarf and 20 liras for the coveralls needed to enter the site, which was re-converted into a mosque from a museum in July.

Visitors to mosques are typically required to wear modest, loose-fitting clothes. Women can wear trousers or full-length skirts or dresses, with long sleeves and a headscarf. Male visitors typically wear trousers.

Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the re-conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. The first Friday prayers at the site following its re-conversion were held on July 24.

The Hagia Sophia, originally built as a Byzantine cathedral in 537, was turned into a mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul on May 29, 1453, and then became a museum in 1935 under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s presidency.

Over the years, Erdoğan has suggested turning the UNESCO World Heritage Site into a mosque again to fulfil a long-standing demand by Turkey’s Islamists.

Erdoğan sought to reassure Christians in July that they would still be welcome at the site and said that the $15 entrance fee will be waived, since the Byzantine-era monument is no longer a museum but a mosque and an active place of worship.

The Hagia Sophia’s doors will remain open “for all, local and foreign, Muslim and non-Muslim”, he said.