Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the former Byzantine basilica of Saint Sophia this Sunday, which has now been controversially converted into a mosque.
Erdogan spent around an hour in the temple, according to the official Turkish news agency Anatolia, in which he was informed about the preparations for the reopening next Friday.
Erdogan reported on Saturday that he hopes 1,000 to 1,500 believers can attend Friday prayers, always following the physical distancing measures necessary to avoid coronavirus infections. Preparations include the installation of a hand-woven carpet, especially in the Manisa province in western Turkey. In addition, the outer part of the building is released for prayers.
On the other hand, the President’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said on Sunday that the mosaics in the old basilica will be preserved, an issue that could lead to controversy as Islam rejects any depiction in its temples.