Lonely Planet Writer

Thousands pray at Istanbul’s Aya Sofya amid calls to reopen mosque

Inside Istanbul's Aya Sofya.
Inside Istanbul’s Aya Sofya. Image by Dzhingarova / CC BY 2.0

Istanbul’s Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) museum was swamped at 4am on Sunday as thousands of people turned up to perform the Islamic morning prayers at its doors in a bid to get the iconic building restored to a working mosque. Sunday marked the 562nd anniversary of Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottoman Empire. Aya Sofya was originally consecrated as a church in the sixth century. It was converted to a mosque in 1453 after the city was taken by the Ottomans and remained as such until 1931 when it was closed to the public and then reopened as a museum in 1935. Read more: todayszaman.com