Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reconverted the historic Chora church, one in every of Istanbul’s most celebrated Byzantine buildings, right into a mosque on Friday, a month after opening the famed Hagia Sophia to Muslim worship.
The medieval Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, constructed close to the traditional metropolis partitions of Constantinople, comprises 14th century Byzantine mosaics and frescoes displaying scenes from biblical tales.
They have been plastered over after town was conquered by the Muslim Ottomans in 1453, however dropped at gentle once more when – like Hagia Sophia – the constructing was transformed to a museum by Turkey’s secular republic greater than 70 years in the past.
Erdogan, whose AK Get together is rooted in political Islam, has positioned himself as a champion of Turkey’s pious Muslims and final month joined tens of 1000’s of worshippers within the first prayers at Hagia Sophia in 86 years.
The transfer was sharply criticised by church leaders and a few Western nations, who mentioned that reconverting Hagia Sophia completely for Muslim worship risked deepening non secular rifts.
Final 12 months a Turkish courtroom annulled a 1945 authorities determination changing Chora – often called Kariye in Turkish – right into a museum run by the Schooling Ministry.
On Friday, an edict signed by Erdogan and printed in Turkey’s official gazette declared “the administration of the Kariye Mosque be transferred to the Spiritual Affairs Directorate, and (the mosque) opened to worship.”
A church was first constructed on the website within the 4th century, however many of the current constructing dates to an 11th century church that was partly rebuilt 200 years later following an earthquake.
Erdogan’s edict on Friday didn’t say when the primary Muslim prayers can be held at Chora, or what preparations can be made for the Christian artworks there.
At Hagia Sophia, curtains have been drawn in entrance of a picture dealing with worshippers of Mary and the toddler Jesus.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Modifying by Dominic Evans/Mark Heinrich)