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Europe's Most-Visited Tourist Attractions

Europe's most-visited tourist attractions: Hagia Sophia

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No. 25 Aya Sofya (Hagia Sofia), Istanbul

Annual Visitors: 2,952,768

The Byzantine mosaics within this cavernous space are so refined and subtle they practically look like paintings. Emperor Justinian completed construction of the then-named Church of the Holy Wisdom in the year 537. Minarets were added in 1453 after it was changed to a mosque. In 1935, Atatürk officially converted it into a museum, but it still retains an East-meets-West spiritual aura. The 102-foot-diameter dome appears even more commanding because two semi-domes on the north and south sides create a large space unencumbered by pillars. —April Orcutt

Source: Hagia Sofia Museum

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