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Hagia Sophia to become a mosque


A man waves a Turkish flag outside the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul on Friday. Associated Press/Photo by Emrah Gurel

Hagia Sophia to become a mosque

Bystanders cheered “Allah is great” as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reverted an ancient Christian cathedral into a mosque. On Friday, a high court in Turkey nullified the decision that turned the nearly 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a museum in 1934. UNESCO said it “deeply regrets” that Turkey made the call without notice or discussion and urged the country to preserve the site’s “universal value.”

What is the importance of the Hagia Sophia? Byzantine Emperor Justinian built the Greek Orthodox cathedral in A.D. 537. The Ottomans turned the Hagia Sophia into a mosque in 1453, and it remained significant for Muslims and Orthodox Christians alike. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site, and it is one of Turkey’s most popular tourist locations, receiving millions of visitors a year.

Dig deeper: Read Julia A. Seymour’s report in World Tour about the politics behind the switch.


Seth Johnson Seth is a correspondent for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a journalism student at Bob Jones University. Seth resides in Indianapolis, Ind.

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