Hagia Sophia Former Istanbul Museum Welcomes Muslim Worshippers
Hagia Sophia: Former Istanbul museum welcomes Muslim worshippers
Crowds gathered in Istanbul as the historic Hagia Sophia site opened for Friday prayers for the first time since Turkish authorities ruled it could be converted into a mosque. "Muslims are excited, everyone wants to be at the opening," Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said on Thursday. The 1,500-year-old Unesco World Heritage site became a museum in 1934. But a Turkish court annulled its status, saying any use other than as a mosque was "not possible legally". President Recep Tayyip Erdogan then announced that the world-famous site would be ready for Friday prayers from 24 July, and he was seen joining worshippers at around midday (09:00 GMT).