Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque with the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia (/ ˈ h ɑː ɡ i ə s oʊ ˈ f iː ə /; from Koinē Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, romanized: Hagía Sophía; Latin: Sancta Sophia, lit. Turkish Presidential press office, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. At 1 p.m., the crowd fell silent and knelt in unison, as the head mufti, his hands clasped on the hilt of the sword of conquest, gave his sermon. “Hagia Sophia is not merely a monument, but a rich and inexhaustible source of historical knowledge, a document open to investigation,” the association said in an open letter. NPR’s sites use cookies, similar tracking and storage technologies, and information about the device you use to access our sites (together, “cookies”) to enhance your viewing, listening and user experience, personalize content, personalize messages from NPR’s sponsors, provide social media features, and analyze NPR’s traffic. It is something he has always believed in,” Mr. Cagaptay added, referring to Mr. Erdogan, “and he wants to do it before he is gone.”. (AP: Lefteris Pitarakis) Turning the site into a mosque has hit at the heart of Turkey's religious-secular divide. Afternoon prayers in Hagia Sophia on Friday. Built in the sixth century by a Byzantine emperor, Justinian I, Hagia Sophia was for nearly a thousand years the largest church in the world and the center of Christendom. According to recent news, the President of Turkey has converted Istanbul’s famous Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey. If you click “Agree and Continue” below, you acknowledge that your cookie choices in those tools will be respected and that you otherwise agree to the use of cookies on NPR’s sites. Mr. Erdogan’s long tenure in power has been marked by an assertive foreign policy abroad and megaprojects at home, including large mosques at prominent sites, designed to evoke the glory days of the old Ottoman Empire. There was no doubt that Mr. Erdogan and many conservative Muslims and Turkish nationalists were thrilled by the decision. Voiceover: The Blue Mosque is such a great example of the kind of impact that Hagia Sophia as a mosque had on the architecture throughout the city. But Hagia Sophia would stay open all night through to Saturday morning to allow the faithful the chance to pray inside the mosque, Ali Yerlikaya, the governor of Istanbul, said in a televised news briefing on the eve of the event. Hagia Sophia was built as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire and was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople in 1453 and changed the … Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered the conversion of Hagia Sophia from its status as a museum back into a mosque. It was the largest and arguably the most famous Christian church in the world for nearly a thousand years. Hagia Sophia: the mosque-turned-museum at the heart of an ideological battle Read more The Unesco-listed Hagia Sophia (Divine Wisdom), known in … President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey joined crowds of Muslim worshipers at the Hagia Sophia for its first Friday Prayer since being restored to a working mosque. When Constantinople was conquered, the Sultan remunerated for the property … By transforming Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. Built in the sixth century by a Byzantine emperor, Justinian I, Hagia Sophia was for nearly a thousand years the largest church in the world and the center of Christendom. This was following a court ruling that found its conversion into a museum was unlawful as it violated the will of its endower, Sultan Mehmet (Muhammad al-Fatih). Mr. Erdogan arrived at noon, wearing a mask, and sat on the mosque floor, head bowed and eyes closed, listening to the melodic recitation of the Quran, which was carried live on national television. We slammed our first on the table.”. Restoring Hagia Sophia as a mosque is a capstone of his reign, Mr. Cagaptay said. Members of the tiny Greek community, which numbers only 1,800 today in Turkey, were anxious about where the Hagia Sophia decision would lead, said Mihail Vasiliadis, editor in chief of the Greek-language daily Apoyevmatini. Hagia Sophia, which stands opposite the impressive Sultanahmet Mosque -- often called the Blue Mosque -- has been a museum since 1935 and open to … The leader of the main opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said he would not be attending the opening not because he was opposed to the conversion, but because did not believe in making a display of praying before television cameras. Muzaffer Demir, a hotel manager who had traveled from the capital, Ankara, with his wife and 13-year-old daughter to be present, described his emotions at the occasion as “excitement, happiness and tears.”. Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque with the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. But the atmosphere of celebration among the Muslim faithful in Turkey contrasted with the angst and dismay Mr. Erdogan’s decision has generated among Christians around the world and among many in academic and conservation communities. In 1453, the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople and converted the majestic building into a mosque: It became one of Islam’s holiest sites. The Hagia Sophia, a major draw for tourists, has a long and complicated history. In July 2020, Erdoğan announced that Hagia Sophia will be changed back into a mosque. The Hagia Sophia that stands today was originally built as the cathedral for the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in the sixth century, and became a mosque in 1453 with the Ottoman … Hagia Sophia was converted into a … But by… For the past 86 years, it has stood as monument to the competing of empires and religions whose histories had melded, sometimes awkwardly, at the World Heritage site. Drapes covered Christian artwork in Hagia Sophia for its reopening as a mosque. The older ones, including himself, are survivors of pogroms against the Greek community in 1955 and most are fearful, he said. His decision is highly controversial, given Hagia Sophia’s reputation as a major monument of human history. In one of the strongest protests, the Italian Association for Byzantine Studies, headed by Antonio Rigo at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, warned that turning Hagia Sophia into a working mosque in today’s Turkey would mean confining the monument to abuse and suffocation. Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom” in Latin) was built in the 4 th century as a Byzantine church. We will call it a mosque," Erdogan said during a live televised programme. See details. “It is all symbolism and optics,” said Soner Cagaptay, a fellow and the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Turkey’s Muslims had taken back what was theirs, his wife added. ISTANBUL—With its vast dome and towering minarets, Hagia Sophia is to humanity what the Grand Canyon is to geology: an open-air book that concentrates nearly one and a half millennia of history as the successive heart of Orthodox Christian and Muslim empires, punctuated by ransacking, fires and earthquakes. Ozan Kose/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Hagia Sophia Hosts 1st Friday Prayers Since It Was Turned Back Into A Mosque The Istanbul landmark has long been hailed as a symbol of the … “The conqueror was amazed by the magnificence of the building — so much so that, according to our sources, he struck a soldier who, blinded with fanaticism, was shattering the marble floor.”. The Hagia Sophia Is Now a Mosque The Hagia Sophia in Constantinople was built by the Byzantines in the sixth century AD as a Christian church. The architectural marvel was built as a church by the Byzantines … “Through its reversion back into a place of worship, with all the inevitable alterations this entails — it was destined to become closed and silent,” it said. Mehmed II, when he conquered Constantinople, was impressed by the grandeur of the building and took care to preserve it, both Islamists and academics concur. Hagia Sophia as a mosque The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii) Spherical Hanging Ornament (Iznik) Iznik ewer Tughra (Official Signature) of Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent from Istanbul Qa’a (The Damascus room) Safavid The Safavids, an introduction The Ardabil Carpet The Court of Gayumars Divination Bowl with Inscriptions and Zodiac Signs Mughal The Taj Mahal Illustration from the … Many in Turkey see the move as pure political theater, part of Mr. Erdogan’s effort to buoy his political standing, which has wobbled after nearly two decades atop Turkish politics and as the pandemic further set back an already shaky economy. Turkey’s minorities have felt a shift in the mood in the country in recent years since Mr. Erdogan allied himself with the main nationalist party, said Yetvart Danzikyan, editor in chief of Agos, an Armenian newspaper based in Istanbul. Besides being a mosque, Hagia Sophia is also among Turkey’s top tourism destinations and will remain open for domestic and foreign visitors. Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a Byzantine cathedral before being converted into a mosque and is now a museum in Turkey's capital Istanbul. Erdogan may also be seeking to leave “his permanent imprint” on Istanbul – the city of his birth and where he served as mayor, Cagaptay added. Conversion of Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. Beginning in 2013, some Islamic religious leaders in the country sought to have the Hagia Sophia once again opened as a mosque. A 2,000 square meter turquoise wool carpet, specially woven for Hagia Sophia, has been laid over half of the floor inside the mosque, with extra layers of felt to fill in the unevenness of the centuries-old marble flagstones. Under heavy police security, worshipers settled on the streets and sidewalks on their rugs, covering their faces with masks against the coronavirus and their heads with makeshift shades as the sun grew searingly hot. ISTANBUL — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sealed his long-stated desire to restore the historic Hagia Sophia as a working mosque on Friday, opening the magnificent Byzantine structure built in the sixth century as the world’s largest cathedral to thousands of Muslim worshipers for the first time in nearly nine decades. But as the decision has become reality, and work has gone apace to prepare for a grand reopening ceremony, including the covering of the marble floor and the figurative medieval mosaics, dismay has rippled across cultural and academic circles around the globe. You can adjust your cookie choices in those tools at any time. The third claim was that the Hagia Sophia was a property of an Islamic charitable trust (waqf or vakıf, in Turkish rendering) established by Sultan Mehmed II after the conquest in 1453; as such, the Hagia Sophia should function as a mosque as per the … Built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 537, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque with the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia as a mosque – Smarthistory After the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, the sultan repurposed this church, adding slender “pencil” minarets. Ottoman won the Constantinople and Mehmed II (emperor of Ottomans) had it repurposed as a mosque and in 1453, Hagia Sophia is changed from church to mosque with several changes. When leading a march for justice across the country three years ago, he had prayed privately in a mosque without cameras, party leaders pointed out. It was just converted into a mosque following a decision by the Turkish court and final confirmation of the Turkish president. WHENour President heralded our nation that Hagia Sophia would be reopened as a mosque; he said, “There are some works that are symbols of nations and states. Hagia Sophia was the main seat of the Eastern Orthodox church for centuries, where emperors were crowned amid ornate marble and mosaic decorations. “Restoring Hagia Sophia as a mosque is a long-stated goal of the Islamists. Supporters of Mr. Erdogan also acknowledged they had needed the decision to boost their morale after losing Istanbul in mayoral elections last year. You may click on “Your Choices” below to learn about and use cookie management tools to limit use of cookies when you visit NPR’s sites. The association appealed to scholars and “members of humanity” to take a stand and prevent an “act of abuse against all peoples of the world and against their hopes for reconciliation and peace.”. Huge crowds began gathering even in the pre-dawn hours around Hagia Sophia, to attend Friday Prayer, a crowning moment for Mr. Erdogan after 18 years at the helm of Turkish politics. “We are the leader of the world, we proved that. Under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the modern Turkish republic, Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum and all religious services ended. Hagia Sofia was officially opened as a mosque with Friday prayers and a special sermon that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, other Turkish … Mr. Erdogan visited Hagia Sophia twice to oversee preparations, posing for photos, the second time on Thursday evening with his wife, Emine, in front of white drapery that has been suspended in the apse to conceal one of the famous mosaics, depicting the Virgin and Child. According to one media report, Mr. Erdogan let it be known that he did not sleep all night after signing the decree to restore its status as a mosque such was his emotion. “It is something we were waiting for, for years,” said Dilek Aydin, a schoolteacher with her 16-year-old daughter. “They hesitate to speak their thoughts and if they are sad religiously they are not in a state to identify that.’’. This was simple to guess for ourselves and it … Many saw the decision as anti-Christian, but it was … But Turks who gathered to celebrate the reopening of the Great Mosque of Ayasofya, as it is known in Turkey, on Friday were adamant that the building rightly belonged to Muslims. Art historians lamented the covering of the basilica’s floor, famous for its variety of colored and patterned marbles, which are laid in geometric or symmetrical designs and act as important ritualistic or imperial markers, including of the place where emperors were crowned. More and more signs are pointing to Istanbul's famous Hagia Sophia, currently a museum, slowly returning to a past role as a mosque. Hagia Sophia Istanbul (after conversion) As promised before, here we are with the recent updates for Hagia Sophia Istanbul.Converting into the mosque or in other words, cancellation of the museum conversion was not surprising at all. “With the pressure of Muslim people it is reconverted.”. 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