CONSTANTINOPLE – Reports of vandalism at the ancient Orthodox Agia Sophia church in Istanbul that was turned into a mosque has alarmed Greek archaeologists over the destruction of an allegedly protected treasure.
In a letter to UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, the Association of Greek Archaeologists (SEA) said it was concerne about the reports of damage to the 6th-Century World Heritage site as well as to the medieval Church of Chora Monastery in the city, said Kathimerini.
The SEA said asked Azoulay to intervene and try to stop it, not noting how that could be done as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s orders control the site now used for Muslim prayer services as well.
SEA said it would reach out to the international scientific community to obtain resolutions and signed petitions for the preservation of the monuments, tactics that Erdogan regularly ignores.
SEA said that since 2020, when the church was converted from a museum into a mosque, the photographic evidence that has emerged suggests “bleak prospects for its future.”
It also raised concern over the work currently being carried out on another of Istanbul’s leading Byzantine monuments, the former church of the Chora Monastery, so that it too can be reopened as a mosque, the report said.