Hagia Sophia’s marble floors suffer ‘enormous damage’, reports say


Considered the oldest and fastest growing cathedral in the world, Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia has withstood many transitions – between reconstructions and repurposing as a place of Muslim worship, the extraordinary structure has seen many changes. As historic Constantinople became modern Istanbul, rulers from emperors to sultans used it first as a cathedral, then as a mosque, and finally, in 1934, it was converted by Cabinet decree. into a “memorial museum”. In 1985 Hagia Sophia was declared part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and served as a historic tourist destination until 2020, when a Turkish court overturned the decree restoring its use as a mosque after 85 years as a museum. The decision was controversial.

Now the pictures flowing online Apparently showing cracked and damaged floors at Hagia Sophia have reignited international fervor for the preservation of the historic structure.

Hagia Sophia has been built and rebuilt many times before. By order of Emperor Justinian, it was completely and grandly rebuilt between 532 and 537 CE, opening to Greek Orthodox worship that year. In order to represent the Byzantine Empire in the extravagant basilica, the emperor demanded that all the provinces under his rule provide the materials necessary for its construction. The marble used for the floor and the ceiling was produced in Anatolia (now eastern Turkey) and Syria.

Now that ancient marble is showing signs of wear, according to some reports. According to Greek journalistdamage to the floor is caused by the heavy machinery used to clean it.

Because Hagia Sophia was considered a seat of Greek Orthodoxy, the damage resulting from its use as a mosque is particularly controversial – but many others with no religious interest in the building are concerned about irreparable damage to an important cultural site. . Earlier this year, a Posting on Twitter from a group called the Turkish Association of Art Historians shared a photo of what appeared to be vandalism at the historic imperial gate of Hagia Sophia, with brutal slashes in the wooden door which is, according to the legend, built from pieces of Noah’s ark.

“This historic building is badly damaged,” a mosque guide told the Turkish daily. Cumhuriyet. “When Hagia Sophia was a museum, people visited it with great respect. It’s like a fairground now.


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