Turkey: Renewing Efforts to Transform Another Emblematic Byzantine Church Into A Mosque

World | February 7, 2024, Wednesday // 13:01|  views

@Wikimedia Commons

The newspaper Yeni Safak reported that the Turkish authorities are continuing with their plans to convert another significant Byzantine monument into a mosque, intending to open it to Muslim worshippers for the Friday prayers on February 23.

The plans for converting the church, which had been used as a museum for nearly 80 years, date back to 2020 when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree that also included the transformation of the iconic Hagia Sophia church into a mosque.

While Hagia Sophia was officially reopened as a mosque in July of the same year, the plans for the Chora Church were paused to allow for restoration work to proceed. The conversion of Hagia Sophia, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a powerful symbol for Orthodox Christians worldwide, sparked international discontent and further strained the tense relations between Athens and Ankara. The Chora Church, (“The Church Of The Holy Savior”), is yet another iconic monument included in UNESCO's World Heritage List, shared by “Ekathimerini”.

It was restored in the 11th century to take on the form of an inscribed cross, while the church underwent partial collapse in the 12th century, likely due to an earthquake. The current structure primarily dates back to the 14th century.

Its mosaics and frescoes, commissioned by the Byzantine humanist and poet Theodore Metochites (14th century) form one of the most complete ensembles of late Byzantine art to survive in Istanbul,” according to UNESCO.

In the early 16th century, Sultan II. Bayezid converted the church into a mosque. In 1945, the Turkish government decided to turn the building into a museum.

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Tags: turkey, Renewing, mosque, church, Transform


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