Weeks after Turkish President Erdogan converted the 1500-year-old Hagia Sophia into a mosque, the authorities in the country have now issued another presidential decree to convert the Byzantine Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora into a mosque.
According to the reports, the decision to convert the former church and current museum into a mosque was already taken in December 2019 but the decision of the State Council of Turkey had not been implemented. The Turkish government headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday passed a decree to convert the 4th-century church into a mosque.
Turkish Council of State has ruled last year that the state has a responsibility to return the Chora Museum into its original mosque form because it was endowed as such.— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) August 21, 2020
The decision later become a foundation for Hagia Sophia ruling
Interestingly, the Chora Church was built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I in 4th-century, who had also built the iconic church Hagia Sophia, which was converted into a mosque recently. The building, which was constructed as a monastery during the Byzantine period, was converted by the Ottomans into a mosque in 1511.
The Chora Church, after serving as a mosque for 434 years was converted into a museum by a Council of Minister’s decree in 1945 after the Republic of Turkey was established in 1923. The church is registered as a UNESCO heritage site.
The walls and the ceilings of the church-turned-museum are covered with some of the finest Byzantine mosaics and frescoes.
Hagia Sophia church converted to mosque
The decision to convert Chora museum into a mosque comes at the backdrop of the recent decision by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to convert the 1500-year-old Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Istanbul, Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
Originally built as a cathedral in 537 AD by Byzantine emperor Justinian I, it was believed to be the largest church in the world. The Byzantines held it for centuries before it was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman rule in 1453.
Following the decision to convert the 1500-year-old church to a mosque, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had expressed deep regret and urged Turkey to initiate dialogue without delay, to preserve world heritage and not to alter the status of the site without discussion.