Hagia Sophia remains top tourist attraction of Turkey
The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry released data showing that the Hagia Sophia church that operates as a museum was Turkey’s most visited tourist attraction of 2015.
Last year, 3.47 million people visited the Byzantine Christian Orthodox basilica built in the 6th century before it was converted to an imperial mosque in the 15th century with many of its exquisite mosaics plastered over and ruined forever.
Now, with restoration work having taken place to recover some of the mosaics that had been destroyed, the basilica is a museum that tourists rush to visit.
Hagia Sophia was also the most visited site in Turkey in 2014. The church museum was followed in popularity by the Topkapı Museum with 3.25 visitors and Konya’s Mevlana Museum with 2.34 million visitors.
The Pamukkale Hierapolis ancient site, the Göreme Openair Museum (Cappadocia), Topkapı Palace’s Seraglio, the ancient city of Troy, and the Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı underground cities were also among the top 10 tourist attractions in Turkey last year. Istanbul was the most visited city by tourists last year, followed by the Central Anatolian provinces of Konya and Nevşehir.
All up, 28.45 million visitors rushed to 325 museums and ancient sites around Turkey in 2015. Despite the negative climate for tourism, there have already been 6.63 million cards sold as part of the Museum Card system, initiated by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry in 2008.
Source: Protothema [January 23, 2016]