Turkey’s Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, where communal prayers of Muslims were held for the first time in 86 years on Friday after re-conversion of the Istanbul landmark into a mosque earlier this month, served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottoman Empire and a mosque from 1453 to 1934. Hagia Sophia, added in 1985 to the UNESCO World Heritage List, is also among Turkey’s top tourism destinations for domestic and foreign visitors alike.
However, post reforms under the modern Republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk of the Ottoman authorities, it was designated as a museum. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan controversially ruled to open worship of Muslim prayers after top court ruled the conversion of museum illegal provoking various Eastern countries concern.
On the other hand, Muslims across Europe are overwhelmed by the landmark decision on Hagia Sophia which will stay open overnight for recitation of Quran 24 hours.