Hagia Sophia was built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral in the year 537, and for nearly a millennium was the world’s foremost monument of Christian architecture. In 1453, after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, it was converted to a mosque. Then the secular Turkish government in 1935 made it a museum, a living symbol of religious tolerance and pluralism, and a vivid reminder of the greatness of the Byzantine Empire. The Turkish government’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia to a mosque again in 2020 was a deeply ill-advised act of memoricide that ignores Turkey’s rich Christian history and further threatens the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the remaining Christians of that land. It was undertaken in defiance of the United States, Russia, France, Greece and many others.
The full statement of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, on the conversion of Hagia Sophia is here.
For previous ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Turkey, see here.
“Historic Hagia Sophia Vandalized,” International Christian Concern, May 18, 2022:
05/18/2022 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The historic Byzantine-era church, Hagia Sophia which now stands as a mosque, was vandalized in mid-April. Experts commented and fear for the future of the building without proper maintenance and protection.
The Hagia Sophia, built as a Christian Orthodox cathedral in 537, was converted to a mosque in 1453 and then a museum in 1935. Turkish authorities converted it back to a mosque in 2020 and held its first Islamic prayers during Ramadan of this year.
“The current management [Department of Religious Affairs] has no real appreciation for the structural and environmental ‘risk factors that might compromise this enormous but so very fragile building,’” Al-Monitor reported via an Istanbul reporter. After the historic church was removed from the care of the Ministry of Culture, the building lost its expert staff that maintained the operating museum….