Istanbul (dpa) - After the conversion of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque, a Muslim Friday prayer will take place there for the first time this Friday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also wants to take part in the official reopening.

Between 1000 and 1500 believers are expected. In addition, areas around the building are reserved for praying believers. Many roads have been closed to traffic. The authorities asked to wear a mask and to keep the minimum distance. In total, more than 20,000 police officers are said to be on duty.

The Turkish Supreme Administrative Court had canceled Hagia Sophia's status as a museum two weeks ago. Erdogan then ordered its use as a mosque. The Hagia Sophia was built as a church in the 6th century AD and after the conquest of Constantinople (now Istanbul) by the Ottomans converted into a mosque. The building was turned into a museum in 1934 by order of the Turkish founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200724-99-907463 / 2