At sunrise on Thursday, the Camlica Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, officially opened to the public with a dawn prayer. It is now the largest of Turkey's 90,000 mosques, with a capacity of 63,000 people and an attached library, art gallery, and museum.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan championed the construction of the mosque, which began in 2013 and cost approximately 150 million Turkish lira (close to $28 million). It was inspired by the Ottoman-era works of Mimar Sinan and designed by architects Bahar Mizrak and Hayriye Gul Totu.
Erdogan comes from a conservative religious background and has openly opposed his predecessor, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who established the Republic of Turkey and the separation of mosque and state (regardless of Turkey's up to 99 percent Muslim majority). Under Erdogan's 16-year rule, the constitutionally secular country has leaned in a more religious and conservative direction. Erdogan has openly supported an expansion of religious schools and has called Turkey a continuation of the Islamic-run Ottoman Empire. He has also initiated the construction of numerous Ottoman-inspired mosques, in the style of purely Turkish 16th-century mosques rather than Western-inspired works from the 18th and 19th centuries, the New York Times reports.
The Camlica Mosque is an example of Erdogan's religious initiatives. Here are some photos from the mosque's first public prayer. Erdogan has yet to officially inaugurate the mosque, according to the Daily Sabah.