Hagia Sophia stripped of museum status, paving its return to a mosque
The 1,500-year-old World Heritage monument has been the contested religious center of both Christian and Muslim empires—now the world is waiting to see what happens next.
The future of one of the world’s most iconic monuments remains uncertain following today’s decision by Turkey’s top administrative court to invalidate the status of the Hagia Sophia as a museum.
The Hagia Sophia that stands today was originally built as the cathedral for the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in the sixth century, and became a mosque in 1453 with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. It remained a Muslim house of worship until the early 20th century, when the Turkish government secularized the Hagia Sofia and turned it into a museum in 1934. More than 50 years later, UNESCO included Hagia Sophia as part of its Historic Areas of Istanbul World Heritage Site.
In 2005, a