Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has visited the Hagia Sophia, officially the Great Mosque of Ayasofya and formerly the Church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, where he was acquainted with the preparatory work for the first service after being turned into a mosque.
The president has shared photos on Twitter.
Erdogan was accompanied by Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism Mehmet Ersoy and Governor of Istanbul Ali Yerlikaya, as well as Minister of Internal Affairs Suleyman Soylu and Minister of Religious Affairs Ali Erbash, according to the Anadolu news agency. Ersoy and Yerlikaya informed Erdogan about the progress of the preparatory work for the first prayers.
Hagia Sophia was founded by Byzantine Emperor Justinian as a cathedral and was opened on 27 December 537. The church, considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture, was the world’s largest building for over a thousand years. After the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans and the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, the cathedral was converted into a mosque, but since 1934, the building, by a decree of the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, became a museum and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.