Turkish police officers stand guard atop the Kariye (Chora) museum, the 11th century church of St. Savior.

After Hagia Sophia, Erdogan reconverts Turkey’s historic Chora church to mosque

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reconverted the historic Chora church, certainly one of Istanbul’s most celebrated Byzantine buildings, right into a mosque on Friday, a month after opening the famed Hagia Sophia to Muslim worship.

The medieval Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, constructed close to the traditional metropolis partitions of Constantinople, incorporates 14th century Byzantine mosaics and frescoes exhibiting scenes from biblical tales.

They have been plastered over after town was conquered by the Muslim Ottomans in 1453, however delivered to mild once more when – like Hagia Sophia – the constructing was transformed to a museum by Turkey’s secular republic greater than 70 years in the past.

Erdogan, whose AK Party is rooted in political Islam, has positioned himself as a champion of Turkey’s pious Muslims and final month joined tens of 1000’s of worshippers within the first prayers at Hagia Sophia in 86 years.

The transfer was sharply criticised by church leaders and a few Western nations, who mentioned that reconverting Hagia Sophia solely for Muslim worship risked deepening non secular rifts.

Last 12 months a Turkish courtroom annulled a 1945 authorities choice changing Chora – often known as Kariye in Turkish – right into a museum run by the Education Ministry.

On Friday, an edict signed by Erdogan and revealed in Turkey’s official gazette declared “the management of the Kariye Mosque be transferred to the Religious Affairs Directorate, and (the mosque) opened to worship.”

A church was first constructed on the website within the 4th century, however a lot of the current constructing dates to an 11th century church that was partly rebuilt 200 years later following an earthquake.

Erdogan’s edict on Friday didn’t say when the primary Muslim prayers could be held at Chora, or what preparations could be made for the Christian artworks there.

At Hagia Sophia, curtains have been drawn in entrance of a picture going through worshippers of Mary and the toddler Jesus.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans/Mark Heinrich)