The General Directorate of Institutions of Turkey has attributed the damage to the Imperial Gate of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to “normal” wear and tear.
In an announcement, it said “the circular wooden element at the door of Hagia Sophia suffered normal wear and tear over time and was destroyed by a simple touch.” It insisted that Hagia Sophia is well protected by 150 security cameras, 68 security guards, and tourist police.
However, the same announcement said that when the Hagia Sophia was a museum, “it received 18,000 to 19,000 visitors [per day] and with its conversion into a mosque the number rose to 40,000 to 45,000.”
The Greek Foreign Ministry expressed its “disgust and sadness” on Tuesday following reports of the “vandalism” to the 15th century door.
The Imperial Gate is the main entrance to what was the most important church in the Byzantine Empire.