●Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque
•Recently, the government of Turkey has decided to convert Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque
•Hagia Sophia is not only the symbol of Turkey’s most popular tourist attraction but also acts as a political symbol.
[The plan of conversion is also an attempt to gain political support as AKP has lost many municipal elections.]
•There have been diplomatic tensions between Turkey and Greece over many issues related to Hagia Sophia.
•According to Greece, the museum which has been designated a world cultural heritage is currently being used to promote other purposes.
•For the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Justice and Development Party (AKP), and his supporters who tend to have nationalist-Islamist sympathies, it symbolises the conquest of Christian Constantinople by the Ottomans, and the superiority of the Islamic world.
[Hagia Sophia is not only the symbol of Turkey’s most popular tourist attraction but also acts as a political symbol.]
•Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum located in Istanbul, Turkey.
Built in AD 537 (Byzantine architecture), during the reign of Justinian 1, the Eastern Roman emperor, it is famous for its large dome.
•In 1453, when Constantinople (capital city of the Roman Empire) fell to Sultan Mehmet II’s Ottoman forces, the Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque.
For a long time, the Hagia Sophia was Istanbul’s most important mosque.
•In 1934, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, converted the mosque into a museum in an attempt to make the country more secular.
•The 1,500-year-old structure has been listed as a UNESCO’S World Heritage site.
A World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance