Turkey's Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul held its first Tarawih prayer in 88 years late Friday, a special evening prayer during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
A number of events for Ramadan will also be held at the mosque, which was converted into a museum in 1934 and regained its status as a mosque in 2020, when it was opened for worship on July 24 of that year.
As part of COVID-19 restrictions in Turkey, however, the mosque could not be used since the pandemic began due to the risk of infection.
But with most of the population vaccinated and the number of new cases and fatalities declining and recoveries increasing daily, Turkish authorities decided to reopen the mosque for Ramadan, the holiest month of the year for Muslims.
Hagia Sophia was built in the year A.D. 532. It was turned into a mosque in 1453 after the conquest of Istanbul.
It served as a church for 916 years and 86 years as a museum. From 1453 to 1934, or nearly 500 years, it served as a mosque.
In 1985, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Hagia Sophia is also among Turkey's top tourism destinations and remains open for domestic and foreign visitors.