‘Hagia Sophia of Bursa’ falls to ruin after 7 years of disrepair
St. Georgios Eastern Church, located in the Nilüfer district of the northwestern province of Bursa, popularly known as “Hagia Sophia of Bursa,” fell down on Sept. 2, due to lack of care for the last seven years.
According to the locals, the church was built in 1896. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was converted into a mosque and renamed as Yeni Özlüce Mosque. However, it turned to dilapidated state overtime.
In 2006, the municipality of Nilüfer started the restoration of the building and reopened it in 2009 as a cultural center. But the Regional Directorate of Foundations opened a lawsuit in 2013 and took the building from the municipality and registered it to a local mosque foundation.
“The building was abandoned to its fate then,” said Turgay Erdem, the mayoır of Nilüfer, telling the story of the process with sadness.
The municipality made two attempts to have the building back. One in 2016 to restore it and the other in 2019 to rent it, according to the mayor.
But both attempts were rejected with the same explanation that “It can only be used as a place of worship.”
The building, which was left to its doom, fell on Sept. 2.
“We spent two million Turkish Liras ($269,000) at that time for restoration. But, the Directorate of Foundation took it away from us anyway,” said the mayor.
Saying that the municipality will apply to the court to find out the ones in charge of the omission, the mayor added, “We aspire to have it again.”
“We have all the plans for the structure. We can restore it again. Just leave it to us.”