An industrial roller shutter door on Jan. 14 was placed at the entrance for foreign tourists within the scope of the works to separate worship and touristic visits in Hagia Sophia, following the decision to convert it into a mosque in 2020.
Hagia Sophia was fitted with industrial shutters, which are generally used in garage and workplace doors, for entrances with a 25 euro ticket to be taken from tourists.
The information note given to the Tour guides stated, "This is a temporary structure which will be removed when the restoration of the minaret is completed. It was built as a safety precaution because the visitors who will go to the gallery floor will pass under the minaret scaffolding."
The 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia was originally built as a church during the Eastern Roman Empire era. Converted into a mosque during the Ottoman period, it was transformed into a museum with the proclamation of the republic, and both Byzantine artifacts and Ottoman additions began to be displayed together.
For a long time, political Islamist groups and parties have tried to convert one of Istanbul’s oldest buildings into a mosque again. Hagia Sophia, which served as a museum for 86 years, started to serve as a mosque again on July 10, 2020.
After it was opened for worship, the building could not handle the overcrowding and had many problems. In Hagia Sophia, whose hundreds of years old doors and artifacts were damaged by the visitors, pieces also started to fall from the dome.
Many experts argued that the building should be restricted for all kinds of visitors to preserve its integrity.