Hagia Sophias: Turkey’s ancient churches are losing a century of secular protection
Historical attempts to turn Turkish mosques – and especially the Haiga Sophia – into churches are now being mirrored by the conversion of churches and museums into mosques, sometimes causing damage to important cultural heritage.
Just over 100 years ago, on March 26, 1913, at the height of the Balkan Wars, the Bulgarian army captured Edirne, once capital of the Ottoman Empire. To celebrate their victory, the Bulgarians planned to convert the grand, 16th-century Selimiye Mosque into a Christian church. Fortunately, the Bulgarian Tzartisa Eleanor intervened and put a stop to it. By July, the Bulgarian army was in retreat, Edirne returned to Ottoman control, and the incident was forgotten.
Looking back, the proposed conversion of an historic mosque into a church might strike us as shocking, but the United States and many other Christian countries were vocal supporters of the Bulgarians. Their ultimate goal was the conquest of Istanbul—once Constantinople and the capital of the Byzantine Empire—and the reconversion the Ayasofya Mosque (as it was known in Turkish) into the Church of Hagia Sophia. Emperor Justinian’s Great Church, dedicated to the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) had been converted to a mosque in the Ottoman Conquest of 1453, but for many it stood as a symbol of a lost, Christian civilization. Cries for its return might surprise modern readers, but the move was regularly advocated for in the pages of American newspapers.
Read the full article at http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/hagia-sophias-from-museums-to-mosques/