The Kariye Mosque in Istanbul

There is a great resemblance between the “Hagia Sophia” Mosque and the “Kariye” Mosque in Istanbul, as both have undergone important transformations. They were both built as churches, then converted into mosques, then museums, and now mosques again. However, many people are not familiar with the “Kariye” Mosque.

“Kariye” Mosque is located in the Fatih district of Istanbul. It was officially reopened by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday, May 6, 2024, after being used as a museum and warehouse for about 75 years.

Historically, the “Kariye” Mosque in Istanbul dates back to 534 AD, during the Byzantine rule of Constantinople, when it was built as a church. It was initially known as the Church of “Chora” or the Church of the “Holy Saviour.”


From Church to Mosque

However, in the early 16th century AD, specifically after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, about 50 years later, Atik Ali Pasha, the vizier of Sultan Bayezid II, issued a decree to convert the building into a mosque.

Yet, in 1945, the Turkish government at the time decided to convert the mosque into a museum and allocated it to the Ministry of Education.

In 2019, the Turkish Council of State (the highest administrative court in the country) decided to annul the decision of 1945, considering the building to be part of the endowments of the Ottoman Caliphate.

Following that, a decree was issued by President Erdogan in 2020 to reopen the “Kariye” Mosque for prayer and transfer its administration to the Directorate of Religious Affairs.



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