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In pictures: Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia opens as a mosque after nearly nine decades

As many as 350,000 people took part in Friday's prayers at the Byzantine-era monument, according to Erdogan.
24 Jul 2020

Fulfilling a dream of his Islamic-oriented youth, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined thousands of worshippers on Friday for the first Muslim prayers in 86 years inside Hagia Sophia, the Istanbul landmark that served as one of Christendom's most significant cathedrals, a mosque and a museum before its conversion back into a Muslim place of worship.

The prayers began with Erdogan reciting from the Holy Quran. The head of Turkey's religious authority, Ali Erbas, led the ceremony and prayed that Muslims would never again be denied the right to worship at the internationally celebrated 6th-century structure.

As many as 350,000 people took part in Friday's prayers, the president said.

People gesture as they wait for the beginning of Friday prayers outside Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, for the first time after it was once again declared a mosque after 86 years, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 24. — Reuters
People gesture as they wait for the beginning of Friday prayers outside Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, for the first time after it was once again declared a mosque after 86 years, in Istanbul, Turkey, July 24. — Reuters

A man raises his arms as people gather outside Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to attend the Friday prayer. — AFP
A man raises his arms as people gather outside Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to attend the Friday prayer. — AFP

Muslims attend Friday prayers while practising social distancing outside Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters
Muslims attend Friday prayers while practising social distancing outside Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters

Muslims attend Friday prayers outside Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters
Muslims attend Friday prayers outside Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters

A muezzin calls for Friday prayers on a minaret of Hagia Sophia, Friday, July 24. — AP
A muezzin calls for Friday prayers on a minaret of Hagia Sophia, Friday, July 24. — AP

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan attends Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan attends Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan (C) and invited guests attend Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque during the official opening ceremony of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. — AFP/TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan (C) and invited guests attend Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque during the official opening ceremony of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. — AFP/TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE

Worshippers attend afternoon prayers and visit Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters
Worshippers attend afternoon prayers and visit Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters

A combination picture shows a view of Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya, June 30, 2020 and the same spot as curtains covering Christian frescoes are pictured at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque after Friday prayers on July 24, 2020. — Reuters
A combination picture shows a view of Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya, June 30, 2020 and the same spot as curtains covering Christian frescoes are pictured at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque after Friday prayers on July 24, 2020. — Reuters

Turkish police scuffle with a small group of faithful trying to enter the overcrowded plaza of the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul on Friday as thousands of people gather outside Hagia Sophia to perform the Friday prayer. — AFP
Turkish police scuffle with a small group of faithful trying to enter the overcrowded plaza of the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul on Friday as thousands of people gather outside Hagia Sophia to perform the Friday prayer. — AFP

A man visits the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, on July 24, 2020. — AFP
A man visits the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, on July 24, 2020. — AFP

Women take a picture as they attend afternoon prayers and visit Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters
Women take a picture as they attend afternoon prayers and visit Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters

A woman holds a flag as she attends afternoon prayers and visits Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters
A woman holds a flag as she attends afternoon prayers and visits Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. — Reuters

A man wrapped in a Turkish national flag visits the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. — AFP
A man wrapped in a Turkish national flag visits the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. — AFP


Header image: People pray as they visit Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque after Friday prayers, in Istanbul. — Reuters