Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque with the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. Restoring Hagia Sophia as a mosque is a capstone of his reign, Mr. Cagaptay said. Every cobbled street around the mosque was packed, as well as the open spaces along the length of the ancient hippodrome where Roman chariots once raced. Turkish Presidential press office, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. The association appealed to scholars and “members of humanity” to take a stand and prevent an “act of abuse against all peoples of the world and against their hopes for reconciliation and peace.”. Under heavy police security, worshipers settled on the streets and sidewalks on their rugs, covering their faces with masks against the coronavirus and their heads with makeshift shades as the sun grew searingly hot. More and more signs are pointing to Istanbul's famous Hagia Sophia, currently a museum, slowly returning to a past role as a mosque. Mehmed II, when he conquered Constantinople, was impressed by the grandeur of the building and took care to preserve it, both Islamists and academics concur. It was the largest and arguably the most famous Christian church in the world for nearly a thousand years. It is something he has always believed in,” Mr. Cagaptay added, referring to Mr. Erdogan, “and he wants to do it before he is gone.”. “We are the leader of the world, we proved that. Ozan Kose/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Hagia Sophia Hosts 1st Friday Prayers Since It Was Turned Back Into A Mosque The Istanbul landmark has long been hailed as a symbol of the … You may click on “Your Choices” below to learn about and use cookie management tools to limit use of cookies when you visit NPR’s sites. This information is shared with social media, sponsorship, analytics, and other vendors or service providers. The Hagia Sophia Is Now a Mosque The Hagia Sophia in Constantinople was built by the Byzantines in the sixth century AD as a Christian church. Mr. Erdogan arrived at noon, wearing a mask, and sat on the mosque floor, head bowed and eyes closed, listening to the melodic recitation of the Quran, which was carried live on national television. Conversion of Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. This was following a court ruling that found its conversion into a museum was unlawful as it violated the will of its endower, Sultan Mehmet (Muhammad al-Fatih). “In Hagia Sophia, whose dome stands as though suspended from the heavens, emperors were crowned; in Hagia Sophia, the splendor of the Orthodox liturgy led to the conversion of the Russian people; in Hagia Sophia, on the morning of May 29, 1453, the terrified people gathered for one last, desperate prayer,” the association wrote. "Hagia Sophia will no longer be called a museum. Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a Byzantine cathedral before being converted into a mosque and is now a museum in Turkey's capital Istanbul. In one of the strongest protests, the Italian Association for Byzantine Studies, headed by Antonio Rigo at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, warned that turning Hagia Sophia into a working mosque in today’s Turkey would mean confining the monument to abuse and suffocation. ISTANBUL—With its vast dome and towering minarets, Hagia Sophia is to humanity what the Grand Canyon is to geology: an open-air book that concentrates nearly one and a half millennia of history as the successive heart of Orthodox Christian and Muslim empires, punctuated by ransacking, fires and earthquakes. In July 2020, Erdoğan announced that Hagia Sophia will be changed back into a mosque. Reopening as a mosque with the pressure of Muslim people it is reconverted. ” changed back into a.... 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