LifestyleHagia Sophia's crumbling state exposed, experts call for immediate action

Hagia Sophia's crumbling state exposed, experts call for immediate action

Hagia Sophia is a mosque in Istanbul considered the most important work of Byzantine architecture.
Hagia Sophia is a mosque in Istanbul considered the most important work of Byzantine architecture.
Images source: © Adobe Stock
ed. IR

1:57 PM EST, November 29, 2023

Recent photos and videos from the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul disclose the damages inflicted by visitors and worshippers. Experts caution against the temple's potential inability to withstand an imminent earthquake if restoration is not carried out promptly.

The Turkish portal Duvar released a documentary film on November 28, which highlights the crumbling state of the concrete caused by the influx of visitors and worshippers to the mosque.

Serif Yasar from the Turkish Foundation of Art History posits that the Hagia Sophia is in such a deteriorating state, that an anticipated earthquake could cause it to collapse. He stated that prior to its transformation into a mosque by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2020, a scientific council was responsible for the restoration and preservation of the monument. The council then proposed that the museum should admit groups of no more than 25 people as the moisture from visitors' breath can negatively affect the interior of the Hagia Sophia.

Despite recommendations for thorough restoration, the temple administration declined, arguing that it serves as the most profitable museum in Turkey - noted Yasar. - Elements of the construction are detaching from the dome's connecting points, raising alarms that the entire dome may collapse if it's not soon repaired - warned the expert. His claims are supported by a video published online showing tourists seated inside the mosque just as part of the wall falls off not far from them.

Originally, Hagia Sophia was a Christian Church of Divine Wisdom. With its conversion into a mosque, the mosaics of Virgin Mary and Archangel Gabriel were covered, and the floors were carpeted.

Additionally, there have been cases of vandalism at the site, with tourists being held accountable.

Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism, declared in October that as of January 15, 2024, foreign tourists would face an entry fee for the mosque. He added that the exact ticket price has yet to be determined. Before the status of Hagia Sophia was changed from a museum to a mosque, the ticket price was 100 Turkish liras (about $11). Currently, mirrored to the practice for all other mosques in Turkey, entrance to the temple is gratis.

Related content