Conversion like Hagia Sophia

Next church in Istanbul to become a mosque

Istanbul - The Islamisation policy in Turkey continues. Another historic church in Istanbul is to be turned into a mosque. In the case of the world-famous Hagia Sophia, this triggered international protests in 2020.

Published  on 09.02.2024 at 18:08  – 

After Hagia Soph ia, another historic Byzantine church in Istanbul is to be used as a mosque in future. The church in question is "St Salvator in Chora", which is world-famous for its frescoes, as reported by the Roman news service "Fides" (Friday) with reference to the Turkish daily newspaper "Yeni Safak".

The future "Mosque of Kariye" was previously used as a museum for 79 years; it is due to open its doors for Islamic Friday prayers on 23 February. According to "Fides", the frescoes will not be painted over but covered with specially made red carpets. The church, which is located in the north-east of the ancient city centre, is considered one of the most important examples of Byzantine sacred architecture in the world.

Erdogan government cancels contract

As in the case of Hagia Sophia, the Turkish government under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced in August 2020 that it was cancelling the 1958 contract for the use of the church as a museum. This had already been decided by the Turkish State Council.

St Salvator in Chora (literally "Holy Saviour in the Countryside") dates back to a monastery from the 6th century, which was extended to include the church in the 12th century. After the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the church was converted into a mosque in 1511. The frescoes, which show, among other things, the Incarnation of Christ as Saviour of the World, were covered with lime but not destroyed. After the Second World War, the church was restored by American experts and used as a museum from 1945 by order of the then Council of Ministers, and as a state museum from 1958. This decision was revoked four years ago and the final conversion is now imminent.

In July 2020, the Erdogan government had already converted the world-famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul from a museum back into a mosque, thus fulfilling a demand from Turkish Muslim fundamentalists and nationalists. Hagia Sophia was the largest church in Christendom for almost 1,000 years. In 1453, the Ottoman conquerors turned it into a mosque. The founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal "Atatürk", declared the building a museum in 1934. The renewed conversion into a mosque by the Erdogan government sparked fierce international protests. (KNA)