Turkish Presidency denies Hagia Sophia opening for prayer

Turkish Presidency denies claims that Turkey’s president will pray at Hagia Sophia

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The claims that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will pray at Hagia Sophia Museum on Friday was denied by the Office of the presidency on Thursday.

Recent claims on social and published Turkish media said President Erdogan will open Hagia Sophia as a mosque on May 30, the day which marks the 562nd anniversary of Istanbul’s conquest by Ottomans.

Following the Ottoman Empire’s collapse, Hagia Sophia which was used as a mosque for 482 years under the rule of Ottoman Empire, was converted into a museum in 1935.

According to the statement released from the presidency, there isn’t any plan concerning to Hagia Sophia in the agenda of neither Erdogan nor the government.

Hundreds of people gathered in Istanbul on Sunday, demanding Hagia Sophia Museum to be turned into a mosque.

Carrying signs that read “Hagia Sophia needs to be re-opened as mosque,” people gathered outside Hagia Sophia museum in the historical Sultanahmet district.

The rally was led by many Turkish nongovernmental organisations, including the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).

Designed as a Christian basilica in the sixth century by Anthemios of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus, Hagia Sophia is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Hagia Sophia remained a centre of Orthodox Christianity until 1453, when the city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, known as the Conqueror of Istanbul.

After 916 years of service as a church, he ordered Hagia Sophia to become a "victory mosque," symbolising the Muslim conquest.

The mosaics of the church were not destroyed, but rather covered with plaster and are successfully restored in the 20th century. 

TRTWorld and agencies