Kariye Museum 

#GS1 #WorldHistory 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered another ancient Orthodox church that became a mosque and then a popular Istanbul museum to be turned back into a place of Muslim worship. 

Details  

  • The 1,000-year-old building’s history closely mirrors that of the Hagia Sophia — its bigger neighbour on the historic western bank of the Golden Horn estuary on the European side of Istanbul. 
  • The Holy Saviour in Chora was a medieval Byzantine church decorated with 14th century frescoes of the Last Judgment that remain treasured in the Christian world. 
  • It was originally converted into the Kariye Mosque half a century after the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks. 
  • It became the Kariye Museum after Second World War as Turkey pushed ahead with the creation of a more secular new republic out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. 
  • A group of American art historians then helped restore the original church’s mosaics and opened them up for public display in 1958. 
  • But Mr. Erdogan is placing an ever greater political emphasis on the battles that resulted in the defeat of Byzantium by the Ottomans. 

Implications  

  • The decision to transform the Kariye Museum into a mosque came just a month after a similarly controversial conversion for the UNESCO World Heritage-recognised Hagia Sophia. 
  • Both changes reflect Mr. Erdogan’s efforts to galvanise his more conservative and nationalist supporters at a time when Turkey is suffering a new spell of inflation and economic uncertainty caused by the virus. 
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