Ömer Erbil - ISTANBUL / Radikal
Interior of Hagia Sophia, Hürriyet photo
Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry has placed a plaque next to the tomb of Sultan Selim II located in the Hagia Sophia complex to notify visitors that the grave’s tiles are replacements as the originals are in France’s famous Louvre Museum.
“These tiles are an imitation of the original ones. The original tiles are exhibited in the Louvre Museum,” the information plaque states in three languages, Turkish, English and French.
“In the Ottoman Era during French
citizen Albert Dorigny’s restoration of the building, between 1882 and 1896, it was discovered that 60 tiles had been taken to Paris
as part of the restoration process,” the plaque read.
Imitations sent instead of the originals “However, the original pieces were not returned to Turkey; instead, imitations were brought back to Turkey and reinstalled in place of the original. This is an example of ‘art theft,’” the plaque said.
The original pieces are exhibited in the Islamic Arts section of the Louvre Museum, it said, adding that the French
Culture Ministry has repeatedly refused Turkey’s demands to return the tiles with claims that they were purchased by the museum from a French
The ministry, meanwhile, has said it has bills detailing how it purchased the tiles from Dorigny.
The Hagia Sophia attracts nearly 600,000 visitors a year and the ministry is planning to expand the scope of this application to all other stolen artifacts.
Sultan Selim II, also known as “Selim the Blond” was the son of Süleyman the Magnificient and Hürrem Sultan. He was was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
from 1566 until his death in 1574.