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