Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan visited Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, where he got acquainted with the preparations for the first service after its transformation into a mosque and shared photos on Twitter.
The Supreme administrative court of Turkey on July 10 annulled the decision of 1934 to turn the Hagia Sophia into a Museum. Immediately after that, Erdogan said that he signed a decree to turn the Cathedral into a mosque and start Muslim services there. They will begin on July 24.
Erdogan accompanied the photos with only one word: “Haya Sofia…” According to the photos, the interior of the Cathedral has not undergone any changes.
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) July 19, 2020
The Turkish leader was accompanied by Turkish culture and tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy and Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, and head of the Department of Religious Affairs Ali Erbash, Anadolu Agency reports. Ersoy and Yerlikaya informed Erdogan about the progress of preparations for the first namaz.
The Church of Saint Sophia was founded by the Christian Emperor Justinian and opened on December 27, 537. The Cathedral was the largest Church in the Christian world for about 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 became a Museum by decree of the founder of the modern Turkish state Kemal Ataturk and was included in the UNESCO world heritage list.