Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday announced a decision to reconvert the historic Chora Church, one of the country’s most celebrated Byzantine buildings in Istanbul, into a mosque.
As was the case with Hagia Sophia, the Chora Church was built for Christian worship, but was turned into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of then-Constantinople in the 16th century. The secular Turkish government turned it into a museum in 1945.
The medieval church — officially called the Church of the Holy Saviour — was built near the ancient city walls of Constantinople, and contains 14th century Byzantine mosaics and frescoes showing scenes from biblical stories. The frescoes were plastered over it was converted into a mosque, but once again showcased when the building was turned into a museum.
Located in Istanbul’s Fatih district, the Chora church was built as part of a wider monastery complex in the fourth century.
In November, Turkey’s Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, ruled that the 1945 decision was unlawful. In a decree published in the Official Gazette on Friday, Erdogan implemented the order to change its status to a mosque.
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