Rome Newsroom, Aug 21, 2020 / 04:30 am
A month after the former cathedral Hagia Sophia was converted from a museum into a mosque, another Istanbul church-museum, renowned for its exquisite Byzantine mosaics, will undergo the same transformation.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, ordered Friday that the 700-year-old Chora Church -- currently the Kariye Museum -- be turned into a fully functioning mosque.
The building’s history mirrors that of the famous former Byzantine cathedral Hagia Sophia.
Holy Savior in Chora is a 4th-century Greek Orthodox church whose structure was originally part of a monastery in Byzantine Constantinople.
The church’s current form, instead, dates from the early 14th century. It is highly valued for its masterful mosaics and frescoes.
After the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453, the church was taken for Muslim worship, and the wall paintings and mosaics thinly covered with dye and lime.
In 1945, the secular Turkish republic declared the building a national monument, and extensive restoration and conservation work was carried out on the former church’s artworks before it opened as a museum in 1958.
Like Hagia Sophia, the building is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.