Hagia Sophia worship
Istanbul's ancient Chora Museum will be opened for Muslim prayers, the Official Gazette reported on August 21, weeks following the first mass prayers held in the iconic Hagia Sophia in decades. Built as a church by Byzantines, Chora was turned into a museum in 1945, a status that the president annulled in 2019.
The area in the Hagia Sophia where emperors used to be coronated was left exposed when carpeting was installed in the structure to prepare it for Muslim prayer, Istanbul Culture and Tourism Director Coşkun Yılmaz said. The former museum was opened to Muslim worship on July 24, holding the first mass prayer in decades.
The Organizing Committee of Byzantine Studies has announced that the 24th International Byzantine Studies Congress will no longer be held in Istanbul. The move came after the Turkish government converted Istanbul's Hagia Sophia, an iconic example of Byzantine architecture, into a mosque.
Artifacts from Istanbul's ancient Hagia Sophia will be displayed in a nearby public building that will be transformed into a museum. Formerly used as a land office, the late-19th-century building in historical Sultanahmet will be converted on the president's orders.
Turkey minted a special coin to mark the first mass Muslim prayers held in Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia on July 24. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently opened the ancient structure, formerly a museum, to worship after decades.
The ancient mosaics in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia will be covered up with curtains during Muslim prayer, but will remain available to visit at all other times, presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on July 19. Meanwhile, the floors will be carpeted ahead of the July 24 opening.
American academic Thomas Whittemore was approved by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to restore the Hagia Sophia's mosaics in 1931. Although the space opened as a museum in three years, the restoration went on for another 15.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque will not impact Turkish-Russian relations. Petrov said that Moscow regards this as an "internal affair" of Turkey.
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's decision to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. They seek an answer to the key question: whether this move indicates Erdoğan is poised to call for a snap election before the end of this year.
Hagia Sophia appears to be a significant step in President Erdoğan's neoliberal Islamic quest. It sends a message to both Muslim and Christian communities. But Erdoğan’s quest is not purely religious; it has a fiercely neoliberal dimension.