Holy icons of the Greek Orthodox tradition are being collected from churches across Turkey and brought to a restoration laboratory near Hagia Sophia to undergo restoration.
The laboratory is housed in Topkapi Palace, which is within walking distance from the historic basilica, and so far it has received 452 icons from Byzantine temples all around Turkey, according to a Daily Sabah report.
The restoration of 45 icons has already been completed with restorers using their expertise to bring several more back to their initial state. Some of the items under restoration are more than 300 years old, while most of the Christian icons collected date back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
Deemed as an essential part of Orthodox Christian heritage, the holy icons will be restored and subsequently placed on display in a new separate museum since Hagia Sophia, where the icons were kept temporarily, cannot provide the space required for their preservation.
As Director of the laboratory Ali Osman Avsar told Anadolu Agency, some of the icons were in a state of disrepair when they arrived at their lab, yet their experts analysed the pigments and the wood the icons had been painted on prior to starting the conservation process. He also added that restorers applied fumigation to clear the icons of any harmful insects or bacteria.
One of the experts working on the project, Professor Sema Dogan from Hacettepe University, said the laboratory staff employed “right application” to bring icons back to their original condition, while they exchanged information and insights with Italian restoration specialists.