Humidity, dust harm icons in Hagia Sophia

Hundreds of Orthodox icons from around Turkey, which were kept in a storeroom in Istanbul, have been seriously damaged by humidity and dust and only some 50-60 are fit to be displayed, the curator of the Hagia Sophia Museum was quoted as saying yesterday. The icons were brought to a storeroom in the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in 1935 when the building was declared a museum. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, it had been used as a mosque. «The icons were scattered and covered in dust. There was no way they could escape damage in this spot,» Seracetin Sahin told the Turkish daily Milliyet. «Of the 600 icons, only 50-60 are in good condition and can be displayed.» Sahin said restoration work would begin next week. Greece’s Culture Ministry said it would contact its Turkish counterpart urgently to find out if the report was true. It said Greece «is ready to provide any needed assistance.»

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