New photos and videos show how one of Istanbul’s most popular attractions is holding up. The unique mosque is in such a dilapidated condition that it requires urgent renovation. If it is not repaired, it will not survive a potential earthquake.
Footage taken in 2022 shows the destruction at Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The video, which was made available only on November 28, shows crumbling concrete in a unique tourist attraction. Experts warn that urgent renovation is needed if the structure is to survive a possible earthquake.
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul in a sorry state
The unique Hagia Sophia has served various functions throughout its existence. It was a museum, a Christian temple, and now it is a mosque. And it attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. Recently released footage from September 2022 shows pieces of concrete falling on guests at a facility located in Istanbul. It confirms the opinion of experts who believe that the 1,500-year-old facility needs to be renovated immediately.
Şerif Yaşar from the Turkish Art History Foundation said in a conversation with journalists that the building will collapse as a result of the next earthquake. He also added that before the facility was converted into a mosque in July 2020, there was a scientific council responsible for restoration and conservation. The management then suggested that the museum admit a maximum of 25 people at a time, because the moisture from their breath had an adverse effect on the interior. Already then, a thorough renovation of the building was recommended, but the administration refused, claiming that it was the most profitable museum in Turkey.
Yaşar revealed that thousands of people enter the mosque every day, which is extremely dangerous. “Portions of the mosque are falling off the dome’s joints, and the entire dome may collapse if it is not rebuilt immediately,” he warned.
The expert also reported that there were problems on the upper floor of the mosque, where entry is prohibited. Only special guests are allowed on the first floor.
Museum turned into a mosque
The transformation of Hagia Sophia into a mosque was presented as a long-awaited victory and was used as campaign material by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Changes to the interior of the building were made in connection with its transformation into a mosque. For example, the iconic mosaics depicting the Virgin Mary and the archangel Gabriel were covered, and carpets were laid on the floors. There have also been various cases of vandalism and destruction at the mosque over the years.