Turkish authorities have pledged to keep Hagia Sophia open to tourists and welcome those of all faiths [Chris McGrath/Getty Images]
Muslim prayers will echo on Friday from the iconic Hagia Sophia in Istanbul for the first time in 86 years after its reconversion into a mosque earlier this month.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 10 controversially declared the nearly 1,500-year-old monument open to Muslim worship after a top court ruled the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site was built as a cathedral during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 537 but converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
It was designated a museum in