28 October 2020, 20:02
Russian Orthodox Church shocked by changes at Istanbul's Chora Monastery recently turned into mosque
Moscow, October 28, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church is shocked by the changes made to the interior of the historic Chora Monastery in Istanbul after it was reconverted into a mosque.
The deputy head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, published two photographs of the monastery on his Facebook page on Wednesday - one photo depicting the monastery before August 2020, when it was still a museum, and the second one showing the monastery after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to turn it into a mosque.
"This is the Chora Monastery in Istanbul after it was 'adjusted' to be used as a mosque. This is what happened to it. The horror of modern-day barbarity. This is a disaster for Orthodox Christians. The survived vivid evidence of what Constantinople, Tsargrad, and the Mother of Cities used to be is being buried right in front of our eyes, vanishing into oblivion... Those who know will understand," he said.
According to the photos, the mosque's ceiling became 2-3 times lower and were covered with plasterboards crudely painted white, completely concealing the high decorated arcs, mosaics, and the dome with windows.
Until recently, the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, also known as the Chora Monastery, built in the 11th century, was considered to be one of the best preserved Byzantine-era churches of Istanbul. It opened its doors to visitors as the Kariye Museum in 1948.
Erdogan decided to turn the Chora Monastery into a mosque a month after Turkey's authorities opened the Hagia Sophia, also a UNESCO world heritage site, to Muslim worship.
Following the announcement that the Chora Monastery was reconverted into a mosque, Moscow emphasized the importance of using it in full compliance with the facility's status as a UNESCO world heritage site.
"It is also essential that the Turkish side take proper measures to fully preserve the site itself and multiple valuable mosaics and frescoes of its interior," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said at the time.