Istanbul, September 11, 2019
Multiple cracks have been found in the former Cathedral of Agia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in Istanbul, which could endanger the ancient structure.
On September 10, 2019, sedmitsa.ru reported that numerous small cracks were discovered in Agia Sophia, which without restoration could expand according to experts, and endanger the superstructure in the long term.
The nearby thoroughfare with extremely heavy traffic appears to be having a negative impact on the magnificent mother cathedral, built by the pious Emperor Justinian and his saintly wife Theodora in the 6th century.
It was also suggested that integrated air conditioning could also be having a negative impact on the building. The management of the Turkish museum which now controls the former cathedral, however, said air conditioning is necessary and important to ensure the comfort of their employees, according to the Union of Orthodox Journalists.
It is important to note, however, that the foundation itself is unharmed, even though Istanbul is located in a seismically active zone; the cracks discovered are very small, however there are many, and the concern is, as noted, that over time they will expand and contract potentially causing serious structural damage if untreated.
Agia Sophia in Istanbul is an outstanding monument of Byzantine architecture, and the crowning cathedral of all early Christianity. It was built in the years 532-537 under the direction of the Emperor Justinian to show the glory of Constantinople
For more than 1,000 years, the cathedral was the largest in the Christian world, long before St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome was completed. After the capture of Constantinople by the Ottomans and the fall of the Byzantine Empire, it was converted into a mosque, but since 1934 the building, by decree of the founder of the modern Turkish state, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, became a museum and was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
In 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that during the month of Moslem Ramadan, the Qur’an would be read daily in Agia Sophia, which caused a sharp reaction in many countries of the world.
As Orthochristian previously reported, Erdogan stated on the eve of Greek Independence Day, that Agia Sophia could be turned into a mosque again.
These comments just a week after the Turkish head of state declared that Agia Sophia would never become a church again during an angry rant in the wake of the New Zealand mosque shootings. Agia Sophia will not be turned into a church again “as long as there is a Turkish people and soul,” Erdoğan said.
“We could even name it the Agia Sophia Mosque instead of a museum so that everybody can visit it without charge,” he said during a live interview yesterday when asked whether the museum could be free of charge for Turkish citizens.
According to Greek legend, and the word of various saints, Agia Sophia will one day return to the Orthodox people who built it.