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The New Status Of Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia

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The New Status Of Constantinople’s Hagia Sophia


Via orthochristian.com,

The fifteen hundred year history of the Hagia Sophia has recently seen the beginning of a new era. In the distant past the conversion of it from an Orthodox cathedral into a mosque also coincided with the beginning of a new era. There are different views on what chronologically marks the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern Age, but the most convincing and more or less commonly agreed upon is the year 1453 when Constantinople fell, having been conquered by the Ottoman Turks. The capital of the Orthodox Empire became the residency of the Ottoman sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. He turned the Cathedral of the Constantinople Patriarchate into a mosque. In 1934, at to the command of the founder of the Turkish Republic Kemal Ataturk, the Hagia Sophia became a museum, and now by the decree of the president of Turkey Erdogan, it’s status was changed once more—it has turned into a mosque again.

This change was received with bitterness by the Orthodox world, Christians of different confessions, and the cultural community. For Russian Orthodox people the Hagia Sophia is especially dear because the equal-to-the Apostles Grand Prince of Rus’ Vladimir’s envoys visited it and reported, “We do not know whether we were in heaven or on Earth because there is no such sight or beauty on Earth, and we are not capable of describing it; we only know that God dwells with people there.” Their story about what they saw and what they experienced while being in this church served as a trigger for the prince to decide on his own baptism and the baptism of his people.

In the current situation it is necessary to adequately and soberly assess the nature and the scale of the suffered loss. The unsurpassed creation of the great architects Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Miletus was not destroyed by the presidential decree. Sophia’s mosaics were saved, amongst them are the masterpieces representing the highest achievements of Christian art. On the other hand, even when the Hagia Sophia had the status of a museum, there was still no place in it for public prayer or for the Orthodox divine services, and the preceding status of a mosque did not stop Christian pilgrims from praying heartfelt or mental prayer in this shrine.

In all fairness one should remember that the Ottoman Turks were not the first ones who dared to encroach on this shrine. In the eighth century, the church survived the onslaught of the iconoclasts, who hammered the mosaics off its walls. At the beginning of the thirteenth century, crusaders robbed the cathedral. In of their wild ignorance they imagined that the mosaics were made of gold and so they cut them out with their axes. And finally, two centuries later, when the church became a mosque, the long-suffering mosaic panels that covered the walls of the temple were scraped off or plastered over. The preserved mosaics behind the plaster were discovered during restoration work carried out in the museum period of the temple.

Despite the suffered losses, the Hagia Sophia to this day remains the greatest creation made by man—it still bears the reflection of the heavenly world, visible signs of touching Divine perfection. The Russian artist Mikhail Nesterov visited the Hagia Sophia Temple when it was a mosque, and was greatly impressed by what he saw. He wrote:

“The Hagia Sophia does not seem grandiose from the sea but is enormous up close. A cluster of later added Muslim extensions distort its original form. However, as soon as you enter the temple everything changes … almost at the very entrance … you can see almost the entire vault of the dome, which is so resembles the vault of heaven. Its boundlessness is the boundlessness of the sky, something that of course cannot be said about the Roman St. Peter’s Basilica, which is so heavy and oppressive… The vastness of the dome of the Hagia Sofia, its seeming limitlessness, simply amazes.”

The bitterness felt by Christians about the Turkish president’s decree is natural, but the reaction of the Orthodox world at the Hagia Sophia’s change of status cannot be the one expressed in a statement issued on this occasion by the leadership of the World Council of Churches. The statement describes this act by Erdogan as “a blow to the unification of religions”. Perhaps an unfortunate expression was chosen and what they really meant was that despite belonging to different religious communities, there is a solidarity of people in defending some common values. The “unification of religions” is a harmful utopia that only people who are far from religious faith want to achieve.

But what will become of the Hagia Sophia when the implementation of the Erdogan’s decree will take shape? The Turkish side made assurances that access to the Hagia Sophia will remain open and free as it has been before. The pessimists and the sceptics say that this is just the beginning… But a realistic view on the situation does not give grounds (at least in the near future) for such fears, as having become a mosque, the temple will not be closed off from visits by “infidels”.

The main concern today is about the preservation of Sophia’s mosaics. The traditional intolerance of Islam, as well as of Judaism, towards the sacred images in prior years went much further—as far as forbidding all figurative art so that artistic talent could only be expressed in an inexhaustible ingenuity of creating ornamental decorations. Modern Turkey has gone a long way from its former idiosyncrasy concerning images—for images are present in its cities and villages at every step—and perhaps there isn’t a city that hasn’t been decorated with a statue of Kemal Ataturk. But in a mosque, just as in the old days, no sacred or other figurative images are allowed. With the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, of course, decisions will be made in this regard. What these decisions will look like is not yet clear. However, official assurances were made that the regime of protection of monuments as anticipated by UNESCO for the World Heritage sites (the Hagia Sophia being recognized as one in 1985) will be strictly observed in the future. This regime excludes not only the destruction of the building itself, but also any damage to the protected masterpieces of global importance. In this respect, it would be a good outcome if the changes would be limited to the covering up of the mosaic panels for the duration of the Muslim prayer. As of today, there are no signs of the monstrous prospect of the destruction of the Sophia’s mosaics; the moderate Islamism that influences modern Turkey today stands far away from the vandals of Isis, Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

There is a wise proverb—don’t go waving your fists after the fight. But analyzing the causes of defeat for the sake of learning lessons for the future is always useful and appropriate. There are at least two factors that influenced the decision-making on this change so unfortunate for us Christians.

One of them lies far from the Christian and cultural community efforts trying to prevent what has taken place. The roots of this factor can be found inside the very Turkish society itself, or it would be more accurate to say that it is driven by how gradually, step by step, the reaction of society has changed towards the prolongation of the process of integration of Turkey into the Western European community—its integration into the EU, to be precise. Something similar could be observed in yesterday’s Catholic and Protestant, but now post-Christian Western world and its relationship with other countries and the people of those countries who have sought or are still seeking to enter this “privileged” part of the world. Illusory hopes give way to disappointment. The twists and turns of this novel are well known to us Russians, as we have experienced portions of it in our own not so distant history. An illustration of this process is the trivial image of being lured by a carrot that cannot be reached. The collective West, despite not having a shortage of critically thinking people, is convinced of its superiority over other civilisations and of its irresistible attractiveness to the rest of the world. But in reality, there is a limit to this attraction. This temptation is not to everyone’s taste. Had Turkey finally become a post-Muslim society, like the post-Christian West, it would have been accepted into the EU; but this did not take place and so Turkey was not accepted. As a result, the position of the principled opponents of Westernization was strengthened because it received the support of Turkish people, who became disillusioned with the idea of fraternization with the West. President’s Erdogan decree is a symbolic gesture addressed to the West, because in the Muslim world the West is often mistakenly associated with Christianity; but in reality, the cradle of Christianity is not located in the West, but in the East—in Palestine. The Hagia Sophia was under the rule of crusaders, that is, the “West” for just a little over a century.

Another factor which prompted the decision to convert the Hagia Sophia Temple into a mosque at this moment in time is a crisis of relations within the Orthodox world. The Phanar put itself in opposition to the Russian Orthodox Church by committing an act of jurisdictional aggression. One of the consequences of the split we are witnessing today is the changing status of the Hagia Sophia. Had there been real solidarity in the Orthodox world, Ankara would have found it harder to brave such a step. In fact, until recently, the Patriarch of Constantinople, with the consent of the patriarchs and the episcopate of various countries autonomous Orthodox Churches, could have made appeals on behalf of three hundred million Orthodox Christians. As a result of his actions it became impossible to preserve the canonical communication between him and the Russian Orthodox Church. So who does he represent now? Turkey has at most a few thousand people belonging to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the voice of the Ecumenical Patriarch whose see is in Constantinople, was not heard by the state authorities of the country that falls under his jurisdiction.

But the other truly authoritative voices of people who spoke out from abroad for the preservation of the previous status of the Hagia Sophia were ignored in Ankara under the pretext of national sovereignty. Supporting the schism comes at a high price, and it may get higher over time. Phanar’s frailty can provoke further, perhaps more tangible moves. Should that take place, it remains to be seen whether the Constantinople Patriarchate will be protected by the powers in whose geopolitical games it participates on the territory of Ukraine. But today, the Patriarchate has plenty of its own problems.

Archpriest Vladislav Tsypin
Translation by Anastasis Starukhina


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Jens Holm

Its very unclever to change things which somehow unite and connect muslims and Chritians. As sekular the museum version was the one, which made sense. By that it also is named as “world Hitage”.

I can only recommend tthe people and the leaders in Eastern Europe make the sekular part work better and make progress, so people feel safe.

By that religion is less needed and more unimportant. The same for Turks.

Servet Köseoğlu

butthurt… priceless…. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cecfec6d976185985501c6231d8284ae6eed0298850c180db25fe53f19c6d98d.jpg


Don’t mix up faith, God and architecture. And the “unification of religions” might be exoterically impossible, esoterically there is no alternative to monotheism: if there is only one god, there is only one religion. Except if you want to fight (religious) wars, as you have been doing for millenia.


Gotta put religious nonsense aside. Hagia Sofia has been under Turks for 700 yrs, this won’t change unless some major upheaval of global proportions happaned. Russia must recognise it as what it is, and that’s Turkish. Russia doesn’t benefit from NATO terrorist cuntries having good ties with each other nor of making EU stronger and Germany won’t just ditch a market like Turkey for Greece.

What’s not Turkish are the parts of Syria where Turks/ISIS/al-Qaeda rule as invaders, which along the other Zioterrorist invders make peace impossible in Syria.


2020 – 1453 = 567 years under Turkish control, not 700 years.


Your comment is arrogant and ignorant atheist nonsense.

Orthodox Russia doesn’t have to kowtow official Russian foreign policy ( that consists of seeking some sort of driving Turkey towards deeper integration of Russian-Chinese-Iranian Asia and kicking out the Zionists evil influence for good ). Hagia Sophia is too important as symbol of Orthodoxy, to be ignored. It is probably one of the oldest if not the oldest and the biggest churches ever built (15 centuries old ) It is absolute symbol and heart of what was Orthodox Christianity and cultural representative of East Roman Empire – Byzantium tradition and architecture unique as cultural monument as well.

cechas vodobenikov

fundamentalist tendances are found amongst backwards insecure peoples…amerikans, turkeys, saudis…I believe all religions properly understood should be admired, if they regard struggle for truth…fundamentalist fragility is the hatred of truth……protestantism after the fake buddhist religion the worst; it breeds sexual repression and money worship

Jens Holm



US is shit hole on the verge of economic collapse and civil war today.

Laugh about that you cunt !

Jens Holm

It seemes You have been analysing cunts too much. Maybee some light in there might help.

If USA is that much shithole, why dont You help them and propose some improvements.

A link or two for something better would be nice.

And You dont understand the Western Economics and partly the Politics and their base for the different countries as well.

I hope You soon will be allowed to search at google and wikipedia.


Fundamentalist Islam or Christianity is based on the use of force for expansion. So the Roman Church is matched by the Wahhabi or Muslim Brotherhood. Orthodox, Protestant, Hindu and Buddhist religions only ‘expand’ via individual choice.


I thought Tsypin only looks like Alex Jones, apparently talks like him too.


In the universe for every action there is a reaction.

” China converts mosques into public toilets in Xinjiang province”



As Orthodox Christian I consider that a worst possible thing to do and obvious sign of oppression and injustice. Even though I am pro Russian to the bone and I am pro Russia-China anti-Zionist globalist alliance, I can only regret that Chinese communist narrow mindedness. Nobody sane would like to live in China as their country of choice with such totalitarian approach.


” You should not mix up your anti – Turk Otman sentiment with animosity towards Islam in general. By doing that you are only doing great favor to Turks and mixing Turk nationalism with Islam in general.”

Religions are the curse on the planet. Hundreds of millions of people have been slaughtered in the name of religion. In the name of religions theyI committed the worst crimes. Religions as well as political ideologies were made to chant the “sheep” / people


Go and tell that to the Turk’s while you are at it.

They’ll rip you apart and make kebab out of you while impaling on the pole what is left of you. I was talking to the wall, because your atheistic pride is totally insensible on common sense. You keep preaching bollocks that can’t stand up against the reality we are in. The one who doesn’t understand the thing is your atheistic mind that has uniform vision of the religions as ghetto’s for insane or plain stupid people (unlike you atheist geniuses)


You can not understand what I am … I did not write anywhere that I am an atheist. I wrote that I do not believe in fabricated religions. My ancestors were intelligent and highly advanced beings to believe in nonsense. Do not try to understand me … I think differently from everyone. The Turks are easily manipulated. After all, we see this every day. They are subordinates and instruments of others … regardless of whether they can understand it.


Judging by your comment it might just be that if your “ancestors were highly advanced” that for some reason you are not at all. Also, why the hell would I “try to understand you”?!? Who do you think you are to talk like that you ego maniac, Aristotle maybe?


The difference between me and you … is that I come from Aristotle. So I can talk like that. !!


The only difference between is that you are egocentric pompous ass and I am just average Joe. Intelligence is not venereal disease that is so easily transmissible. I am absolutely sure that Greeks had their fair share of idiots and retards, just like everybody else.

The more you talk the more I am sure that I have absolutely nothing to learn from you. So just go away.


” I am absolutely sure that Greeks had their fair share of idiots and retards, just like everybody else.”… Hush Stupid CUNT! If it were not the Greeks to stop the Persians, you would now have a Persian passport STUPID. WE ARE NOT THE SAME.All the languages of the planet are based on Greek roots. If one removes from English, German, French, Spanish, etc. the words with the Greek roots, then what will be left, will not fill the diary of a 4 year old child. Do you understand now idiot why WE Greeks are the Europe ?? Even the word EUROPE IS GREEK.


“If one removes from English, German, French, Spanish…the words with the Greek roots”

There would be some other words not Greek ones you FUCKING DEPRIVED OF ALL LOGIC RETARD ! Greece is tiny 10 million country US stooge that intensively kissing NATO arse ! You are of no importance just like UK or Portugal are of no Importance with or without their past !

NO you fucking idiot you are NEVER CONSIDERED to be “Europe” by Scandinavians, Germans and all other EU “higher standard” countries. Because that is exactly why they have turned history up side down when it comes to glory days of East Roman Empire while they were only primitive savages !

Today they talk about Byzantium as if it was almost backward civilization and as if they didn’t stick their knives in Orthodox backs and robbed Byzantium blind from everything including her culture, her civilization and her freedom through Crusader invasion and made offer to the Turk savages ultimate praise of already robbed Constantinople.

The West Europe are still those same back stabbing merchant sons of whore who just seek occasion to turn somebodies misery into their advantage! And they see in you just another half-Asian gypsy that is part of Europe by coincidence and not by right ! For them true Europe are only Nordic the preference Catholic-Protestant Europeans others are just 2nd or 3rd rate nobodies including Orthodox Greeks !


” There would be some other words not Greek ones you FUCKING DEPRIVED OF ALL LOGIC RETARD !”

No there are no other words. !! Give us back our language “loan” and go to the Swedes to give you, philosophy, mathematics, science and LOGIC.

But I forgot they are Vikings and they only know from beer and sausages. !!

And after you give us back 2/3 of the language you speak, give us back all the Greek statues and exhibits that you have in your museums and you have STOLE them from us. !!.And after you do all this..then think (difficult for you) that without Greece Europe stops on the Danube. !!

The geostrategic importance of Greece of 10 million is HUGE. !! Greece is the SOFT CASTLE of Europe, and the port of Thessaloniki is the center of the Balkans … whoever controls Macedonia and the Balkans, CONTROLS EUROPE BUT ALSO THE !Dardanelles!

Not to mention the geostrategic importance of Crete that controls the entire MEDITERRANEAN. Greece of 10,000,000 is a country that UNITES 3 continents and 5 seas !!! Do you now understand the geostrategic value of Greece ??? Greece is the HEART OF THE EARTH of the planet idiot..and whoever owns the HEART OF THE EARTH controls the planet. Now make a comparison with the havouza you have for a country, in front of Greece it is not worth a mountain or a stone. You idiot, you are not worth a single minute of my time.

Lazy Gamer

That was heavy handed. China wont be able to break religious persons. What they will achieve is to convince these persons that the downfall of communism should be their goal. That was the wrong approach. Nothing wrong with going against the specific people and place of worship which preach violence but for this to be general is just abusive and tyrranical.




“That was the wrong approach. Nothing wrong with going against the specific people and place of worship ” Do not tell it to me … tell it to the Chinese or the Turks. They do that.


They didn’t know that every mosque also has a public toilet as part of its social service?


You understood the meaning very well, the Chinese deliberately destroy mosques, and either make them public toilets or use them for other uses. Exactly the same tactics used by the Turks for Christian churches. It does not matter what religion you belong to, but the tactics you follow. Now do you understand the meaning ??


Erdogan believes that he can rule the word, starting with the fanatic Muslims. The future will prove again the historic fact, that nobody can pretend and act that is stronger than truly is.

Lazy Gamer

Erdogan will get his just desserts. There’s just too many vested in his removal.


Maybe god prefers heterosexuals to low class pro homosexual/eu (weak) societys,I can understand! Incase it is forgoten,homosexuality is gods abonimnation,no ifs not buts,no halfwits,nor kweer suckrz!


”Had Turkey finally become a post-Muslim society, like the post-Christian West, it would have been accepted into the EU”. This is precisely what causes most of the world (the West especially) heartache – they want a post-Islamic world. Why? What you do not realize is that Muslims do not think like you, what is mostly important to you is not really important to them. You want a world of ”freedom”, ”democracy”, capitalism, wake up in the morning go to work, go shopping and things like that. A Muslim will do all that but not think about it – it’s not important to them at all. A Muslim wants to pray 5 times a day and ensure that he lives according to his religious values 24/7. Everything around him is built and meant to support this religious obligation. What you can do is let the Muslim be. Just cultivate a peaceful relationship with them, stop occupying their lands and killing their children and everybody lives their life.

As for Hagia Sophia, I feel the pain. Personally, I believe that if Turkey’s sovereignty wasn’t under any kind of pressure from the West, this step would probably have not been taken. Turkey is simply solidifying its Islamic values and if it were left alone, it wouldn’t feel the need to take such a drastic step considering that it has a significant Christian population.

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