Hagia Sophia floors suffer ‘enormous damage’ in cleaning accident – ​​ARTnews.com

The Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine-era religious building in Istanbul, Turkey, was reportedly damaged last week when heavy cleaning equipment cracked the marble floors. It is only the latest incident in recent years that has seen the site damaged.

The Hagia Sophia, built by Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I between 532 and 537, served as the largest Christian cathedral in the world until Constantinople was taken over by the Ottoman Empire in 1453. It was then transformed into a mosque and then a museum. by Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1935. Considered one of the most important religious and cultural sites in the world, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

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In 2020, the Turkish government decided to convert the structure from a museum back into a mosque. The decision sparked controversy both globally and locally and demanded that the Department of Religious Affairs regain control of Hagia Sophia from the Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Culture.

Since 2020, reports have documented other types of damage to the site. An example is the Imperial Gate, also known as the Gate of Repentance, which dates back to the 6th century. The gate is about 23 feet tall and is, according to the Byzantines, constructed of oak from Noah’s ark. Above the door is a mosaic depicting Jesus alongside Theotokos, or mother of Jesus and Saint Mary of Egypt, all of whom were brought from the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The Imperial Gate would have been used only as an entrance for the Emperor.

Earlier this year, on April 18, a group called the Turkish Association of Art Historians documented the vandalism at the gate of a Twitter post. “We have discovered that the historic imperial gate of Hagia Sophia is in such a state and we photographed it, around 8:45 p.m. this evening, they wrote. The photo accompanying the post shows deep nicks in the surface of the wood.

Such incidents have raised questions about the preservation of the site since the resumption of regular religious worship.

“This historic building has suffered enormous damage”, a mosque tour guide told a Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet. “When Hagia Sophia was a museum, people visited it with great respect. It’s like a fairground now.

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