Plans for turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque, were rejected by the most important courts in Turkey.
The Byzantine-era structure, formerly a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral and museum, was built in 537 by order of the Byzantine emperor Justinian. Hagia sophia It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and served as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
With the fall of the Byzantine Empire, Hagia Sophia became a mosque when the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople in 1453.
The bells, the altar, the iconostasis and other relics were destroyed; and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his mother Mary, the Christian saints, and the angels, were removed or plastered.
It remained a mosque until 1931, when it was closed to the public for four years and turned into a museum by the secular government of Turkey.
Now, the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country, has rejected the request of the Turkish Heritage Association to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.
In its plea, the association claimed that banning prayers in Hagia Sophia was violating the right to "freedom of expression", something the court ruled out completely.
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