April 28, 2011
Istanbul's famous Hagia Sophia museum has announced plans to introduce restrictions on the number of visitors to the site each day in response to a recent influx of visitors to the former Byzantine church-turned-mosque, according to Today’s Zaman.
The number of people visiting Hagia Sophia averages 10,000 daily. However, recently there has been a general increase in visitors to the site, with numbers exceeding 17,000 on some days.
The museum, which is expected to attract more than 3.5 million visitors by the end of year, will have new restrictions imposed on the number of people visiting the site at any one time. The measures are being introduced to avoid damage to the marble and mosaics on the walls of the historic building. Overcrowding tends to causes humidity in the structure, which contributes to the erosion of the mosaics. These restrictions will in particular be geared towards large groups and school field trips.
Haluk Dursun, president of the Hagia Sophia museum, said that agreements have been signed with the Education Ministry to impose some restrictions on school field trips, particularly those arriving during peak times. This is will be a first step toward managing the number of visitors to the site. In another measure, an appointment system will be introduced for large groups.