Muslim worshippers attended Hagia Sophia’s first Friday prayers since its reopening as a mosque on July 24
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was due to attend, alongside several hundred invitees. News reports said that thousands of people had gathered outside in the hopes of gaining entry to the sixth-century building, with police deployed to maintain security in the area.
Daily Sabah reported that the mosque would open from 10 am, and would remain open until the morning of July 25, with social distancing measures in place due to the coronavirus.
The historic building was originally a Christian church when it was built in the sixth century during the rule of the Byzantine Empire. It remained as such until Istanbul was captured by the Ottomans in the 15th century, when it was then used as a mosque until the 20th century. It was converted into a museum in the 1930s.
Erdoğan tweeted a celebratory video regarding the reopening on July 22.
In a statement issued July 10, UNESCO, which includes the structure on its historic World Heritage list, said it “deeply regrets the decision of Turkish authorities” to covert the building back to a mosque. Credit: Ali ŞAHİN via Storyful