President of Turkey Tayyip Erdogan joined thousands of worshippers at Hagia Sophia on Friday for the first prayers there since he declared the monument a mosque once again.
Earlier a top Turkish court announced this month it had annulled Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum.
President of Turkey Erdogan immediately decreed that the building, a Christian Byzantine cathedral for 900 years before being seized by Ottoman conquerors and serving as a mosque until 1934, had been converted once again to a mosque.
As precautionary measures, the Governor of Istanbul urged everyone to bring face masks, a prayer rug, patience and understanding to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Reportedly, around 1,000 people attended prayers at the site at any one time.
The iconic, domed building of Hagia Sophia is located in Istanbul’s Fatih district, on the west bank of the Bosporus, overlooking the Golden Horn harbour.
Since 1934, it has since become one of country’s most visited tourist sites, hosting more than 3.7 million tourists last year.