The association of Greek archaeologists sent a letter recently to the Greek and Turkish ministries of culture as well as to the Greek branch of UNESCO regarding the state of the Hagia Sophia monument in Trabzon,Turkey.
The archaeologists’ letter focuses on reports suggesting that the Turkish authorities intend to construct additional buildings onto the monument, completely altering its architectural style.
The letter also points out the very limited access that visitors now have to this important monument, after Turkey decided to convert it from a museum into a Muslim mosque in 2013.
The Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) shrine was a Greek Orthodox church built in the 1200s in the Byzantine city of Trapezous (modern-day Trabzon), the capital of the Trapezuntine Empire. This was a successor state of the Byzantine Empire in Pontus, which had a rich culture that flourished during the 13th through 15th centuries.
Trapezous was conquered by the Ottomans in 1461 and the church was converted into a mosque in 1584.
After functioning as a museum for decades throughout the 20th century, one of the finest extant examples of Byzantine architecture was turned into a mosque once again, with its distinct style now seriously threatened by the planned construction.