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Hagia Sophia soon a mosque again? – by Tanzia Islam

P1140045 3photo credit: Tanzia Islam

Hagia Sophia was built in 537 A.D. as a Greek orthodox church and later converted into a mosque in 1453 A.D.
A number of times this structure has been converted into a church and a mosque based on who were the rulers. Hagia Sophia always has been the center of political attention since it was built. Every conqueror of Constantinople fought hard to establish his ownership on this architectural masterpiece as a sign of his hold on the city and the community.

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In 1935, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk converted many monuments into museums. The conversions of the famous Topkapi palace-treasure and the Hagia Sophia into museums were the most important museum developments of modern Istanbul. Now Istanbul is one of the fastest developing tourist cities in the world and these two museums are the most visited museums in Turkey. After the large protests at Taksim Gezi Park in 2013, once more Istanbul is the talk of the world. This time the current Turkish AKP government plans to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque again.

In that case Hagia Sophia would open its doors as a mosque to muslim worship. Currently the proposed concept for Hagia Sophia is to cover the pictures during prayer time as it is forbidden to have any pictures of animals in a prayer hall. The rest of the time the pictures will be uncovered for the visitors. * The last attempt of converting Hagia Sophia into a church was in 1986** and now, in 2014, the talk about converting it into a mosque is on board again. It seems like Hagia Sophia will always be an architectural symbol of represented religion and power.

The importance as museum interests only the heritage experts, not the political and religious leaders of today. It may be doubted that this political decision will be positive for the heritage management of Turkey.

For further reading:

*http://www.newsbomb.gr/global/news/story/446295/worldwide-outrage-for-the-conversion-of-hagia-sophia-into-a-mosque

**http://www.nytimes.com/1986/04/06/opinion/l-hagia-sophia-proposal-offensive-to-moslems-222786.html

http://www.teslasociety.com/hagiasophia.htm

http://icomos.org.tr/?Sayfa=Kapak&sira=17&dil=en

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