A senior Turkish official visited the Grand Hagia Sophia Mosque on Thursday where he answered questions posed by 30 ambassadors and gave information about the history of the structure.

Ibrahim Kalin underlined the historical importance of turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque after 86 years.

“Today, we witnessed again how impressive this place in terms of its historical identity and artistic aspects,” according to Kalin, who said it is a very important place in the political, cultural, religious and aesthetic history of the Ottoman Empire.

“Especially after Hagia Sophia being a mosque, we do not have the slightest hesitation about preserving the historical and cultural heritage and identity of it,” he added.

On July 24, Friday prayers in the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque marked the first Muslim acts of worship there in 86 years.

Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul, and a mosque from 1453 to 1934 — nearly 500 years — and most recently as a museum for 86 years.

In 1985, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Besides being a mosque, Hagia Sophia is also among Turkey’s top tourism destinations and will remain open for domestic and foreign visitors.

*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin

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