Health Editor’s Note: Years ago, on a road trip to Turkey (which ended up in Crete and then a return back to Paris), a visit was attempted to the Hagia Sophia. No matter how many miles you may have traveled, she was closed on Mondays, even if that is the only day you could be there. The Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern were delightful!…..Carol
Turkey Controversially Converts Hagia Sophia From Museum Into Mosque
by Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
Last Friday, a Turkish court revoked the 1934 order designating Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia as a museum. Within minutes, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decreed that the site would reopen as a working mosque, reports Carlotta Gall for the New York Times.
Built in the sixth century A.D. as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral, the architectural wonder underwent a brief stint as a Roman Catholic church before becoming a mosque in 1453. More recently, the temple-turned-museum has emerged as a monument to harmony with shared religious significance.
Erdogan’s decision to reopen the building for Muslim prayers has drawn criticism from parties including the World Council of Churches; the Greek Foreign Ministry; European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell; Pope Francis; and Unesco, which declared the house of worship a heritage site in 1985. These detractors cite concerns regarding access to the building and preservation of its Christian icons and mosaics.
In his televised address, the Turkish president promised to keep the site open to both Muslims and non-Muslims. He also announced plans to eliminate entrance fees.
“Hagia Sophia, the common heritage of humanity, will go forward to embrace everyone with its new status in a much more sincere and much more unique way,” Erdogan added, ...read more: