Sharing Haghia Sophia

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Haghia Sophia from the ground level

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Haghia Sophia from the ground level

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I wonder if it is possible for us as human beings to bring our shared love and affection to mingle, rather than compete in a zero-sum game. What would it be like for us as diverse religious communities to share the sites that we love so dearly, such as the Haghia Sophia?

  • Since it already been a Church and a Mosque, I think for the next 900 years it should be a shul to give equal time to all abrahamic faiths 🙂

  • Nate

    I wonder as well. I think the question actually revolves around architecture. Orthodox Christians need a consecrated altar and iconography in worship (which would probably exclude Muslim use of the “sanctuary” where the altar and iconostasis would be located). Likewise, Muslim worship would require a lack of icons (since pictures of the Divine are prohibited). This would mean that the iconostasis be covered over during prayers. If Muslim prayer was directed in one direction (toward Mecca) but the altar was in another direction, the plan might work. After all, Roman Catholics and various Orthodox communities share churches in the holy land, and there is often no love lost between them. But they make it work. If “turf” could be divided in Hagia Sofia, perhaps a similar arrangement could happen. But if they must worship in the same direction within the same space, I’m not sure it could. But still, like you, I wonder.

  • Nicholas

    Covering and uncovering Hagia Sofia’s art treasures (like in the cemetery chapel used, 30 seconds apart, for funerals and weddings in the movie “The Loved One”) is NOT the answer.

    You wonder? I wonder WHY any religion would want to worship in a building conceived, built, decorated and used for a thousand years by another religion. Grant you, when the city was taken by force, there were no mosques in Constantinople, so there was a reason to use Hagia Sofia. But in the centuries that followed, hundreds of mosques were built… many (like the Blue Mosque) copying the then 1,000 year-old Greco-Roman-derived design of a CHRISTIAN expression of its faith… Hagia Sofia.

    I wonder… why no one is asking the MOTIVATION of the demands that Hagia Sofia be reconverted to a mosque? Is there a scarcity of room for the devout in the area? No. The motivation is a nationalistic triumphalism being used for political ends. There were many mosques built that copied the then 1,000 year-old Christian design of Hagia Sofia, including the Blue Mosque.

    Attaturk was right when he listened to Thos. Whittemore of the Byzantine Institute in the early 1930s, and uncovered the art that is the civilized world’s patrimony and let it be preserved and appreciated at least as a museum.

    The Turkish tourism officials have been adept at commercializing the historic treasures that are not the fruits of their culture or civilization, but rather fell into their hands thru conquest, e.g. replacing the statue of St. Nicholas (a Christian Bishop) with one of a germanic Santa Claus, and recreating a “Hollywood” Troy and Noah’s Ark to attract foreign tourists. Yet the biggest draw they could possibly create, if they were as shrewd as they think they are, would be to take their already #1 tourist attraction, Hagia Sofia, and let it be restored by the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians to its original designed use… a Christian cathedral. Then the dollars, rubles, etc. would REALLY flow. THEN people could believe that Turkey respects pluralism and religious freedom.