For the first time since 1934, Friday prayers have been held in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia post-conversion into a mosque. Worshippers showed up in massive numbers, including Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The historical Hagia Sophia in Istanbul has reopened its doors as a mosque.
An estimated 350,000 people, including Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, attended the first Friday prayer in 86 years after the building was reverted to a mosque by the Council of State annulment of its museum status.
Before the Friday prayers, Erdogan recited passages from the Quran inside the reopened mosque.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site was a church for nearly 1,000 years and then served as a mosque for 500 years and turned into a museum in 1934.
Here are some glimpses of its first Friday as the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque:
At least four muezzins from the mosque’s four minarets recited the adhan, or call to the prayer, and before the people started the Friday worship.
Erdogan said some 350,000 people attended the service in Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque.
Since its construction in 537 the building has undergone several changes.
While this city was known as Constantinople, a series of earthquakes damaged different parts of the Hagia Sophia and its main dome.
Byzantine emperors ordered restoration works.
After the Ottoman conquest in 1453 and the building's conversion into a mosque, minarets were erected, including the ones in the western end of the building designed by Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan.
In 1935, the founder and first president of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Ataturk ordered the building to be converted into a museum.
An American archaeologist called Thomas Whittmore led the preservation and restoration work of the Byzantine mosaics and other elements seen in the building today.
Erdogan said on Friday that specialists from the Culture and Tourism Ministry would conduct restoration efforts both inside the Hagia Sophia and in its surrounding area.