Noise pollution to end in Hagia Sophia thanks to headsets

Noise pollution to end in Hagia Sophia thanks to headsets

March 02, 2011, Wednesday/ 17:22:00/ ASLIHAN AYDIN

Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry will require large tourist groups visiting Hagia Sophia, one of the most popular tourist destinations in İstanbul, to use headsets in an attempt to prevent noise pollution.

The system, which starts May 1, applies to visiting groups of more than16, which includes one tourist guide. The groups may bring their own headsets or rent one at the museum for TL 2.5 per person. Due to this implementation, a tourist guide will not have to shout to be heard, and communication between a tourist guide and the group will be made easier.

The ministry has informed travel agencies to comply with the decision to increase the quality of visits. Since the headset system has a large frequency range, officials warned agencies to stick to their assigned frequency.

In the meantime, the ministry has established standards for headsets brought by travel agencies. Headsets will have 50 channels, and their sponge pads will be changed after every use. Headsets also have to have an emergency call button, which a tourist can use to reach the guide after getting lost.

Hagia Sophia, known as Ayasofya in Turkish, was a basilica in Constantinople; then, after İstanbul was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453, it was turned into a mosque. In 1935 it became a museum. The museum attracted over 2.5 million visitors last year.

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