Patriarch Kirill held a "minute of silence" in St. Sophia, Istanbul

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia visited St.Sophia, the former principal church of the whole Christian world, now a museum, on Saturday during his stay in Istanbul.

According to Interfax-Religion correspondent, Patriarch Kirill accompanied by representatives of Turkish authorities, museum management, and the clergy of the Moscow and Constantinople Patriarchates saw the courtyard and the inside chapels of St. Sophia, the surviving Byzantine frescoes and listened to a short tour about the cathedral's history, the traditions of divine services in the Byzantine Empire and enthronement of its emperors.

Patriarch Kirill was also accompanied by the Russian media representatives and the choir of the Moscow Sretensky Monastery.

After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, St. Sophia was converted into a mosque, and several minarets were added which were higher than the cathedral's cupolas. Most of its frescoes and icons were covered with paint. Today, in accordance with the order of the Turkish authorities St. Sophia is turned into a museum. Any religious ceremonies, public prayers or divines services are prohibited here.