The Turkish government’s planned conversion of the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul into a mosque would not deprive it of its identity as a world heritage site, the spokesman for the country’s presidency told the state-run Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
Ibrahim Kalin said that opening Hagia Sophia to prayer would not prevent people from visiting the site of what was the seat of the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, built in AD 537.
“All of our major mosques such as the Blue Mosque, Fatih and Suleymaniye Mosques, they are open to both visitors and worshippers," Kalin told Anadolu.
“Opening up Hagia Sophia to worship doesn’t keep local or foreign tourists from visiting the site. So a loss from the world’s heritage is not in question,” he said.