One of Turkey’s ancient wonders, the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul, will be called a mosque from now on, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
“Hagia Sophia will no longer be called a museum. Its status will change. We will call it a mosque,” Erdogan said during a TV interview.
Tourists who come to visit mosques in Istanbul will visit “Hagia Sophia not as a museum, but as a mosque,” he said, according to state-run news outlet TRT World.
Described as the “eighth wonder of the world” by historians, Hagia Sophia is one of the most visited places in the world.
It began as a church in 537 under the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I but Ottoman Turks converted it into a mosque after capturing Istanbul from the Byzantines in 1453.
It has served as a museum for the past 84 years after the founder of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, converted it to a museum in 1935.
The building formed a blueprint for its famous neighbour, the Blue Mosque, according to the BBC.
Following restoration work during the Ottoman era and the adding of minarets by architect Mimar Sinan, the Hagia Sophia became one of the most important monuments of world architecture.
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