Hybrid, hierarchically organized, monolithic silica gels, comprising periodically arranged mesopores and a cellular macroscopic network, have been prepared through a co-condensation reaction of tetrakis(2-hydroxyethyl)orthosilicate with chloromethyl-trimethoxysilane or 3-(chloropropyl)-triethoxysilane. Subsequent conversion of the chloro groups into azido groups, by nucleophilic substitution with NaN3 in N,N-dimethylformamide, was conducted upon preservation of the monolithic structure. However, treatment with NaN3 had a strong influence on the structure in the mesoporous regime, with changes such as an increase of mesopore diameter, pore volume and lattice constants, as well as a concomitant decrease of the pore wall thickness, as confirmed by small angle X-ray scattering, transmission electron microscopy, and nitrogen sorption analysis. Similar effects were observed for unmodified silica gels by simple ageing in azide-containing media, whether a relatively small or a sterically demanding counter ion (Na+ or (H3C)4N+) was used. The structural modification did not seem to depend greatly on whether an organic aprotic solvent (N,N-dimethylformamide, 1,1,3,3-tetramethylurea, 1,3-dimethyl-2-imidazolidinone) or a protic solvent that can form hydrogen bonds, such as water, was used.