Hagia Sophia, the 1,500-year-old ancient church in Istanbul, Turkey, has become headline over an incident of vandalism: the cover of an old water chamber was smashed and the chamber was turned into a receptacle for shoes that visitors take off before they enter, reported daily Birgün.
Hagia Sophia that served as a museum since 1935, was turned into a mosque following a disputable court decision and was opened to worship in an official ceremony attended by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 24, 2020.
The ancient temple had been turned into a mosque in mid-15th century, after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
The recent vandalism incident became viral in social media, as many stated that Hagia Sofia was better protected as a museum.
The incident was first reported in a tweet on the 26th of April by an archaeologist and photographer.
The tweet with a photograph read:
“I took this photo on the evening of April 24. They smashed the cover of the water chamber dating back to the Ottoman period and they placed shoes inside and around it. Nobody cares about it; help needed.”
In previous weeks, damages on the ‘imperial door’ of Hagia Sophia was reported which raised great concern. The incident was brought up by social media posts of the Association of Art History.
General Secretary of Istanbul Municipality called for identification of those who caused the damage, and for a criminal investigation to be launched. The Directorate of Foundations subsequently appointed an inspector and launched an investigation into the incident.