German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Hagia Sophia museum and Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul on Tuesday, Anadolu news agency said.
Turkish State Minister & Chief Negotiator for EU talks Egemen Bagis and Culture & Tourism Minister Ertugrul Gunay accompanied Merkel.
The Sultanahmet Mosque is a historical mosque in Istanbul which was the capital of the Ottoman Empire (from 1453 to 1923). The mosque is popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior. It was built between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. It comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. While still used as a mosque, the Sultanahmet Mosque has also become a popular tourist attraction.
Merkel arrived in Turkey on Monday for a two-day state visit.
Later in the day, she will visit German high school and German church. Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will attend a concert which will take place at German Consulate General in Istanbul, and then participate in Turkey-Germany Business Forum meeting at Ciragan Palace.
Merkel will depart from Turkey after completing her meetings.
In 1453, Istanbul was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered Hagia Sophia to be converted into a mosque. The Islamic features such as the mihrab, the minbar, and the four minarets outside were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935 when it was converted into a museum by the Republic of Turkey.