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Iznik Ayasofya Museum (Hagia Sophia Museum in Nicaea)

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ISTANBUL, As worshipers knelt to face the Qiblah for noon prayers within the Hagia Sophia of Iznik last week, a caretaker beckoned to a pair of tourists tiptoeing around behind them. “Look,” he whispered, pointing to a faded fresco on the wall because the imam intoned the prayer and therefore the worshipers faced Mecca. “It’s Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist.” 

The caretaker, Nurettin Bulut, a Culture Ministry employee, has been showing visitors around the ancient church in northwestern Turkey for 3 years, noting its Byzantine mosaics and relating its history because of the venue of the seventh Ecumenical Council of Christendom and, later, as an Ottoman mosque. Until three months ago, he was showing them around a museum.

Know more about İznik Ayasofya Museum 

One of the foremost important centers both for the Turkish Empire and Anatolia, the Iznik County houses this museum, converted from a mosque, which was formerly the church where the seventh Ecumenical Council was held. 


Dating from the Roman period, the building was transformed into a mosque in 1331, and today it is a museum. The frescoes and mosaics from the Byzantium period, along with the sarcophagi are worth seeing. Much of the international community has been shocked by the news concerning Turkey’s conversion of two historic Hagia Sophia churches into mosques in Istanbul and Trabzon. 


The famous Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul was originally founded as a Russian Orthodox cathedral within the sixth century CE. it had been converted into a mosque after the Ottoman Turkish invasion of town within the fifteenth century. The historic church has never been allowed to work as a church since. 


The government of Turkey turned it into a museum in 1935 then back to a mosque on July 24. Four days later came one more violation of a former church/museum. The Hagia Sophia in Trabzon was reopened as a mosque on July 28 in an exceedingly ceremony joined by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan through videoconference. 


These don't seem to be the sole abused Hagia Sophias in Turkey. There are nine churches named Hagia Sophia, which suggests “Church of the Holy Wisdom'' in Greek. they're now used as mosques, or are so-called “abandoned” buildings being restored as mosques, in step with the book ‘Türkiye’de Kilise ve Manastırlar (Churches and Monasteries in Turkey)’ by Dr. Ersoy Soydan. 


In addition to the 2 Hagia Sophia former churches in Istanbul (Constantinople), the others include Edirne (Adrianople), Kırklareli (Saranta Ekklisies), Trabzon (Trebizond), Gümüşhane (Argyroupoli), Karadeniz Ereğli (Heraclea Pontica), Bitlis (Baghesh) and Iznik (Nicaea). These former churches now do not have local congregants because the Christians of those cities were massacred or deported a few hundred years ago. 


The genocide against Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians committed by Ottoman Turkey from 1913 to 1923 has nearly marked the tip of the indigenous Christian communities within the region. But it had been not only many thousands of lives that perished within the genocide. The religious and cultural heritage of those peoples was also largely destroyed. 


The cities where the Hagia Sophias are located were built, enriched, and ruled by Greeks for hundreds of years before the Turkish invasion within the eleventh century. However, aside from Istanbul (which is home to fewer than 2,000 Greeks today), there are not any longer Greek Orthodox inhabitants in any of those cities. The former Hagia Sophia Church in Nicaea (Nicea) is especially significant for its deep-rooted Christian history. It had been a mosque first after the Ottoman takeover within the fourteenth century and so in 2011.

Iznik Ayasofya Museum (Hagia Sophia Museum in Nicaea)

From Nicaea to Iznik

Nicaea was an ancient city of Bithynia located in northwest Asia Minor. Within the fourth century BC, it absolutely was rebuilt by Greek king Antigonus I Monophthalmus, who “founded several cities, especially in the peninsula, and united several small communities into unitary, large centers,” consistent with Encyclopedia Britannica. 


Nicaea is primarily called the positioning of the primary and Second Councils of Nicaea (the first and seventh Ecumenical councils within the early history of the Christian church), the creed, and because of the capital city of the Empire of Nicaea.

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