Turkish courts reject converting Hagia Sophia into a Mosque

Related Articles

Related Articles

Plans to turn the Byzantine-era structure, formerly a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral and Museum back into a mosque has been turned down by the country’s highest courts.

Built-in 537 AD on the orders of the famed Byzantine Emperor Justinian, the Hagia Sophia is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and served as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

At the fall of the Byzantine Empire,  the Hagia Sophia had been converted into a mosque when the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople in 1453. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and other relics were destroyed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints, and angels were removed or plastered over.

Islamic features—such as the mihrab (a niche in the wall indicating the direction toward Mecca, for prayer), minbar (pulpit), and four minarets—were added. It remained a mosque until 1931 when it was closed to the public for four years and converted into a museum by Turkey’s secular government.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-leaning government has been facing calls to convert the historic monument back into a site for religious worship by the Association of Historical Monuments and Environment who submitted a bid to the Turkish courts. In its plea, the Turkish Heritage Association had claimed that barring prayers at the Hagia Sophia was breaching the right to “freedom of expression”.

Erdogan himself caused interfaith tensions by reciting the Quran’s first verse and dedicating the prayer to the “souls of all who left us this work as inheritance, especially Istanbul’s conqueror” upon visiting the museum.


Subscribe to more articles like this by following our Google Discovery feed - Click the follow button on your desktop or the star button on mobile. Subscribe

The Constitutional Court, Turkey’s highest court cited technicalities as grounds to reject the bid, saying that there was no “violation of religious freedoms” by the association.

Header Image Credit – Arild Vågen

 

- Advertisement -

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Study Suggests the Mystery of The Lost Colony of Roanoke Solved

The Roanoke Colony refers to two colonisation attempts by Sir Walter Raleigh to establish a permanent English settlement in North America.

Drones Map High Plateaus Basin in Moroccan Atlas to Understand Human Evolution

Researchers from the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH) have been using drones to create high-resolution aerial images and topographies to compile maps of the High Plateaus Basin in Moroccan Atlas.

The Kerguelen Oceanic Plateau Sheds Light on the Formation of Continents

How did the continents form? Although to a certain extent this remains an open question, the oceanic plateau of the Kerguelen Islands may well provide part of the answer, according to a French-Australian team led by the Géosciences Environnement Toulouse laboratory.

Ancient Societies Hold Lessons for Modern Cities

Today's modern cities, from Denver to Dubai, could learn a thing or two from the ancient Pueblo communities that once stretched across the southwestern United States. For starters, the more people live together, the better the living standards.

Volubilis – The Ancient Berber City

Volubilis is an archaeological site and ancient Berber city that many archaeologists believe was the capital of the Kingdom of Mauretania.

Pella – Birthplace of Alexander The Great

Pella is an archaeological site and the historical capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedon.

New Argentine fossils uncover history of celebrated conifer group

Newly unearthed, surprisingly well-preserved conifer fossils from Patagonia, Argentina, show that an endangered and celebrated group of tropical West Pacific trees has roots in the ancient supercontinent that once comprised Australia, Antarctica and South America, according to an international team of researchers.

High-tech CT reveals ancient evolutionary adaptation of extinct crocodylomorphs

The tree of life is rich in examples of species that changed from living in water to a land-based existence.

Fish fossils become buried treasure

Rare metals crucial to green industries turn out to have a surprising origin. Ancient global climate change and certain kinds of undersea geology drove fish populations to specific locations.

Archaeologists Discover Viking Toilet in Denmark

Archaeologists excavating a settlement on the Stevns Peninsula in Denmark suggests they have discovered a toilet from the Viking Age.

Popular stories