Hagia Sophia will be “better preserved” following Turkey’s decision to reconvert Istanbul’s iconic architectural gem into a mosque after serving decades as a museum, Turkey’s ruling party spokesman said Monday.

“All features of Hagia Sophia will be preserved. It will even be better preserved from now on,” said Omer Celik, the spokesman for the Justice and Development (AK) Party, after a board meeting of the party.

Also, UNESCO officials should know Turkey is open to any cooperation to preserve Hagia Sophia’s universal heritage, Celik added.

On Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use again as a mosque after 85 years.

The court ruled that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Istanbul, and presented to the community as a mosque — a status that cannot be legally changed.

It was used as a church for centuries under the rule of the Byzantine Empire, and turned into a mosque following the conquest of Istanbul in 1453. But in 1934, a Cabinet decision had converted Hagia Sophia into a museum.

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