Crowd Celebrates in Istanbul After Erdogan Orders Hagia Sophia Converted Back Into Mosque

A crowd celebrated outside the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul on July 10 after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared that the city’s most famous structure would once again be open for Muslim prayer.

Originally built in the sixth century during the rule of the Byzantine Empire, the Hagia Sophia began its life as a Christian church, which it remained until Istanbul was captured by the Ottomans in the 15th century. It was then used as a mosque until the 20th century, when it was converted into a museum.

In a statement, UNESCO, which includes the structure on its historic World Heritage list, said it “deeply regrets the decision of Turkish authorities.”

This footage, taken outside the Hagia Sophia on July 10, shows a crowd celebrating the move to revert the building into a site of Muslim worship. The call to prayer can also be heard. Credit: Muhammad Anas via Storyful