No Turkey, I don’t think that works

The Turkish tourism authority took out a full-page ad in an Austrian newspaper today. It had a picture of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul with a blurb about tolerance and “unity.” The point was that the Hagia Sophia — having been both a church and a mosque, complete with Christian icons and Islamic minarets — is a shining beacon of Christian-Muslim cooperation.

What utter bollocks. Um, why exactly did the Sancta Sophia become a mosque? Ah, yes, that’s right, I seem to remember something about the siege of Constantinople, some bloke called Mehmed, and the slaughter of Byzantine civilians.

Sorry, Turkey, that doesn’t work. Beautiful ch-mosque though. Lovely museum inside.

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2 thoughts on “No Turkey, I don’t think that works

  1. Yes, Allison and I love the Hagia Sophia. It is fantastic inside. When we visited there, I remember hearing or reading that the massive pillars inside the church were brought in from the temple of Artemis of Ephesus, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, but that is not mentioned in this brief wiki article on the church. This was the biggest Christian church for approximately 1000 years and was a real innovation in architecture when it was built by Justinian in the 530s AD. Justinian is reported to have said “Solomon, I have surpassed thee!’ (Νενίκηκά σε Σολομών)” upon its completion.

    Interesting cycle though, if it is true that some of the pillars in the Hagia Sophia were plundered from the magnificent temple of Artemis of Ephesus. The Christians plunder the pillars from the pagan temple of Artemis of Ephesus and incorporate them into their central church. 1000 years later, Muslims, spreading their religion by the sword, as they had done before in North Africa and Spain, conquered Constantinople, the seat of the Eastern Church and the Byznatine Empire. They change Christianity’s greatest church into a mosque and the name of the city to Istanbul. But we forgot one step: during the “Latin Occupation” of Constantinople in the thirteenth century, the church was made into a Roman Catholic cathedral and many of the relics were removed from the church and supposedly transported to various monasteries and personal collections throughout Western Europe, forever separated from their home in Justinian’s temple.

    Still, Instanbul is nice with both the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, which is seriously magnificent. I can see where you are coming from with the disingenuous ad about the Hagia Sophia being about Muslim-Christian cooperation or interaction. BUT, the Turkish ministry of tourism might warrant a little slack in this matter because it could be seen as true in some sense. That is, once a secular government came to power in Turkey, the government was aware of the building’s inception as Christianity’s greatest church and therefore turned it into a museum instead of a mosque. That step, for Muslims, as you can imagine, was surely a huge concession to its Christian heritage.

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  2. once a secular government came to power in Turkey, the government was aware of the building’s inception as Christianity’s greatest church and therefore turned it into a museum instead of a mosque.

    Agreed. Hail Ataturk!

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