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Muslims can return to pray for the first time in 86 years on Friday morning in Istanbul’s famous Hagia Sophia.


The house of prayer was for a long time a museum, but despite international criticism, it is being used again as a mosque.

Believers will have to deal with extra measures because of the coronavirus. According to Turkish media, they must wear mouth masks and have their body temperature measured.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier that he expects between 1,000 and 1,500 believers in Hagia Sophia on Friday. The building is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Turkey and remains open to tourists as well.

Hagia Sophia was built as a cathedral by the Byzantines in the sixth century. The imposing building in the then Byzantine capital Constantinople was once the centre of the Orthodox Christian world.

Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, who used Hagia Sophia as a mosque. Turkey made a museum of the house of prayer in 1934, but that decision was overturned by the judge this month.

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