A number of tiles of the ancient marble floors in Hagia Sophia have been damaged by heavy machines used to clean the site, according to Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.
The historic building, which was built as a church in the Byzantine era, is one of the most important sites in Orthodoxy. Although it was previously a museum, it was changed into a mosque in 2020.
According to Cumhuriyet, a tour guide at the historic site alerted the newspaper to severe cracks and damage to Hagia Sophia’s priceless marble floors.
Marble floors damaged at Hagia Sophia
The damage caused to the floor tiles came as the result of extremely heavy machines used to clean the site, which is being used as a mosque.
The guide stated to the paper that the transformation of the site from a museum to a place of worship is to blame for the damage.
“This historic building has faced tremendous damage. When Hagia Sophia was a museum, people visited it with great respect. Now it’s like a carnival,” the guide stated.
It should be noted that the marble floors had previously suffered wear and tear throughout the centuries, but the cracks in the marble tiles are recent.
— Dete Gr (@DeteGrPatras) June 28, 2022
This is not the first time that the building has faced damage since its transformation into a mosque.
In April, The Turkish Association of Art Historians stated that the historic Imperial Gate in Hagia Sophia had been badly damaged.
The group posted a picture clearly depicting the damage to the oak wood of the 15-century-old gate.
Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his “sadness and disgust” at the vandalism to a door of Hagia Sophia in a call with UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, shortly after the photo was made public.
Mitsotakis said that the damage to the Imperial Gate demonstrated disrespect for the monument’s history, integrity, and universal character.
The Imperial Gate, the central door, is the largest of the Hagia Sophia and has been has been dated back to the 6th century AD. It is about 7 meters high, and the Byzantines claimed it was constructed of wood from Noah’s Ark, which was made of oak.
The damage was discovered after the first tarawih prayer in 88 years, a special evening prayer during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, was held in Hagia Sophia.
Erdogan converted the cradle of Orthodoxy to a mosque
In 2020, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan converted the cradle of Orthodoxy from a museum into a mosque, creating outrage throughout the Christian world.
In his New Year’s Day address to the nation in January 2021, Erdogan referred to his decision to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque as the “crown of 2020.”
The Hagia Sophia, protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, is one of the holiest sites in Orthodox Christianity.
Built where a fourth-century church once stood, the Hagia Sophia was constructed in the sixth century and is one of the best surviving examples of Byzantine architecture.
Following the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Hagia Sofia was converted into a mosque, and many precious mosaics were destroyed.
The rise of secularism in Turkey during the early twentieth century, spearheaded by President Kemal Ataturk, culminated in the transformation of the site from a mosque into a museum.