Statement by the Turkish Minister for Culture and Tourism regarding Hagia Sophia
Prof. Dr. Numan Kurtulmuş, Minister for Culture and Tourism visited the Hagia Sophia museum where restoration work is ongoing.
The minister inspected the restoration works along with Mr. Coşkun Yılmaz, the Director for Culture and Tourism in the Istanbul Prefecture and the Director of the Hagia Sophia, Hayrullah Cengiz.
“Hagia Sophia is, by itself, a very important monument, in terms of the cultural heritage and history of the works of arts that it holds. It is one of the most important works of Turkish history. (..) It is a valuable creation containing works of art that were created during the Byzantine period and those created and added during the Ottoman period”, added Dr. Kurtulmuş.
He went to argue that the ongoing restoration works are of great importance and are the most important and extensive ever undertaken since 1850. “We are continuing the works in replacing the cracked marble floors, restoring the outer façade and repairing – internally -the northern part/façade of the monument. We are hoping that by the end of 2018, we will have finished the repairs both on the floor and the structure internally. He went on to add that “Hagia Sophia, along with its fountain, its madrassa and its poorhouse makes up for a large number of buildings. I can say that we are patiently awaiting for the day that this restoration work will be completed in accordance with the spirit and soul (of Hagia Sophia)”.
According to the Dogan news agency, and in reply to questions by journalists, if Hagia Sophia will “be opened up to the pilgrims and the devout ones”, Dr, Kurtulmuş replied that: “Hagia Sophia become a mosque as a results of the Mehmed II – The Conqueror’s quest. It was turned into a museum by a decision of the Cabinet. At this present time, there no such issue on our agenda, still, I have to reiterate the fact that Hagia Sophia remains a conquest right of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror”.
We have to take due note, that these statements were made inside the monument of Hagia Sophia.