This Hagia Sophia is actually the third building of that name in the same location; the first two versions of the structure burned to the ground. At its inaugural religious service in December of 537, after ordering renowned architects Isidoros and Anthemios to construct the new basilica, then-Emperor Justinian is reported to have said: “My Lord, thank you for giving me the chance to create such a worshipping place.” The quietest days to visit are Wednesday and Thursday — try to attend anytime but Friday, as the Blue Mosque is closed that morning. (

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