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The Monastery of Stoudios in Istanbul will be converted into a mosque. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

The Monastery of Stoudios in Istanbul will be converted into a mosque. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Vercihan Ziflioğlu Vercihan Ziflioğlu vercihan.ziflioglu@hurriyet.com.tr

The largest Byzantium monastery in Istanbul will be converted into a mosque after its restoration next year.

The Monastery of Stoudios, also known as the İmrahor Monument, will be turned into a mosque and be titled İmrahor İlyas Bey Mosque. The renovation of the mosque, which forms part of the Hagia Sophia Museum, will follow the same fate as that of Hagia Sophia churches in Trabzon and İznik, which had been already turned into mosques.

“I wouldn’t like to speak as a member of a council but my personal opinion is that cultural heritage shouldn’t be reflected as an antagonistic heritage. If we reflect it like this, it will damage societies on a macro level,” said Laki Vingas, acting as representatives of the Directorate General of Foundations.

Vingas added that the issue creates grief within society, and it was not only the Greek community’s problem.

“Cultural heritage is universal heritages, meaning that they are humanity’s common heritage,” he said.

İmrahor’s conversion into a mosque came at a time debate continues as to whether to reopen Hagia Sophia as a place of worship. Most recently, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has expressed his hope to see the Hagia Sophia to be used as a mosque.

Vingas said: “My personal view is that when you are trying to create a new vision you should be careful not to create new problems for the future.”

The Monastery, which dates back to the fifth century, was the most important monastery of Istanbul during the Byzantium era, also serving as the center of Byzantine intelligentsia. The basilica was converted to a mosque, during the period of Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II. After two major fires in the 18th and 19th centuries, the monastery was mostly destroyed. In 1946, it was turned into a museum in line with a ministerial cabinet decision.


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Notice on comments

Oliver Smith

12/21/2013 5:11:35 PM

Why does any actually vote for RTE. We all know why he is building all these mosques and that is so he can spread them every 100m and make Turkey a totally dry nation where alcohol is illegal. This party is totally pointless and running a religious agenda achieves absolutely nothing apart from irritating some and wasting lots of money.

hanni bal

12/16/2013 9:41:41 AM

Architectural heritage without a use is just waste of space.Urban spaces are getting scarce especially in the old ancient cities.Why not use them in a more modern architectural yet retaining the basic character approach that will cater the public instead?We could innovate things like the old prison facilities turned into a 5 star hotel.It does not mean to disrespect but use them for more viable public need of the Muslim majority.

Suki Yoda

12/11/2013 10:30:20 AM

what make Istanbul a unique city are the vestiges of the great civilizations that once existed there. converting a Byzantium monastery into a mosque is a strange decision! the government can build as many mosques as they like but without affecting historical vestiges! When the Muslims led Omar Ibn Al Khattab, conquered Jerusalem they did not touch any of the existing churches. they protected them! It is tolerance and respect that brings people together!

american american

12/9/2013 2:19:37 AM

so aydin, is all the current negativity towards the west because we are good at conquering you and even convincing your relatives to move there and have offspring to complain about it later?

Brit in Turkey

11/30/2013 2:04:41 PM

Gali: Thank you for that breath of fresh air to the debate. A further habit to exemplify your argument is the filth left behind by Turkish pic-nickers! There is no respect for the environment and beautiful countryside.


11/28/2013 10:51:22 PM

How sad it is to learn such a news. Apparently, Turkish authorities -and seems most of the Turkish people also- have no respect for cultural heritage outside of their comfort zone. Those ridiculous conquest tirades only reveal what is the mindset there: a twisted, almost perverse cynical view, a trademark in all their daily politics. In the end, as an old man once suggested, the breadth of reason becomes an obstacle when logos is absent, and by any means seems it is.

Brit in Turkey

11/28/2013 2:38:35 PM

a shah: Please remind me - what new church has been built in England in recent times other than Coventry Cathedral and Guildford Cathedral? And in other European countries?

Iskandar In USA

11/27/2013 10:16:52 PM

The "Rum" empire is part of the history of Istanbul, and conquering the City happened in 1453. Turkey is a modern vibrant Country, and feelings of victory should not be based on ancient battles won almost 600 years ago, but on wars being fought now against poverty, ignorance and hatred. Changing the monastery into a mosque, hurts Christians and does not benefit Muslims. Is there a benefit of antagonizing Greeks, Russians and other Eastern European Christians for no reason? Just a thought.


11/27/2013 10:09:22 PM

@a shah. Tax deductible incentives are not quite the same as full financing, via direct taxation, of the building and running costs of tens of thousands of Mosques. The bulk of costs of places of worship in the UK comes from the Church, raised through donations or investments. But more simply, if Mosques in the UK are financed by Muslims themselves, then why not here? I pay tax in Turkey, but no one asks if I want a Church?

a shah

11/27/2013 9:47:12 PM

JRC let me repeat again and for the last time, hoping sincerely that you and others will remember it. Of course, the Christian countries subsidize the building of churches and is done subtly and indirectly as tax-deductible contributions for the citizens who build and donate to religious institutions giving them an important incentive . It is true that in many Muslim countries other than Turkey no such privilege exist. Mosques are built and preachers paid by the people.
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