Out of the several virtual tours of Instanbul's Hagia Sophia that exist online, the Smithsonian version at the Smithsonian magazine website is the simplest to operate. The 360 degree tour gives viewers five perspective options: Entrance, Left Corridor 1, Left Corridor 2, Right Corridor 1, and Right Corridor 2
The Smithsonian virtual tour gives viewers all over the world an intimate look at the restored Byzantine landmark that has been, at various times in history, the most famous Greek Orthodox church in the world, the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, a Roman Catholic cathedral in the Latin empire, and arguably the most influential mosque architecturally in the vast Ottoman empire. After Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's secularization of Turkey in the 20th century, Hagia Sophia was closed to the public for four years beginning in 1931. Its grand reopening in 1935 as a popular museum marked a new era for Istanbul as the capital of a secular Turkish republic rather than a theoretical and literal battleground for religions from Europe to the west and Asia to the east.
Well over 1,500 years into its existence, Hagia Sophia is still the fourth largest church building in the world, and its iconic domed roof, four graceful minarets, and elaborately carved buttresses distinguish it as one of the world's most beautiful buildings.