Istanbul's historic Hagia Sophia was secularized and converted into a museum in 1935.
Hundreds of people gathered outside Istanbul's Hagia Sophia museum, in the historical Sultanahmet district, some carrying signs that read: “Hagia Sophia needs to be re-opened as mosque,” and “Let our lives be sacrificed for Islam”.
The protest was led by many Turkish nongovernmental organizations, including the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).
Designed as a Christian basilica in the sixth century by Anthemios of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus, Hagia Sophia is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Hagia Sophia remained a center of Orthodox Christianity until 1453, when the city was conquered by Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, known as the Conqueror of Istanbul. After 916 years of service as a church, he ordered Hagia Sophia to become a "victory mosque," symbolizing the Muslim conquest.
The mosaics of the church were not destroyed, but rather covered with plaster and were successfully restored in the 20th century.
Hagia Sophia was used as a mosque for 482 years and was considered a jewel of the Muslim world. Considered the highest ranking place of worship in the Ottoman Empire, it became known as the Great Mosque. Following the Ottoman Empire's collapse, it was converted into a museum in 1935.