Hagia Sophia witness first Friday prayers in 86 years

Turkey’s Hagia Sophia, on Friday, witnessed first Friday prayers in 86 years attracting thousands of Muslims in Istanbul.

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan also attended the historic moment as thousands of Muslims attended Friday prayers – the first in 86 years, at Hagia Sophia mosque Istanbul Turkey.

As per the details around 1,000 people offered Friday prayers within the building, whereas several thousand people were gathered outside and around the vicinity to witness and offer Friday prayers at this historic moment.

The development comes as earlier a Turkish court had ruled against the 1934 government decree converting the structure into a museum, which was followed by the announcement from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who re-named the mosque as ‘Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque’ and revealed its new nameplate on Thursday, a day earlier.

Hagia Sophia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was converted into a mosque by Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Western world has largely criticized and voiced its ‘concerns’ over the restoration of the Hagia Sophia as a mosque, which once was a church for both Greek Orthodox and Catholics.

Brief history of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia’s complex history began in the year 537 when Byzantine emperor Justinian built the huge church. It was briefly a Catholic cathedral in the 13th Century when Crusaders captured the city

In 1453, in a devastating blow to the Byzantines, Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II captured Istanbul (formerly known as Constantinople) and the victorious conqueror performed Friday prayers inside Hagia Sophia.

The Ottomans converted the building into a mosque. After centuries at the heart of the Muslim Ottoman empire, it was turned into a museum in 1934 in a drive to make Turkey more secular. Since then it has been the country’s most popular tourist site, attracting more than 3.7 million visitors a year.