After Hagia Sophia, Turkey's historic Chora church to be converted into mosque
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reconverted the historic Chora church, one of Istanbul's most celebrated Byzantine buildings, into a mosque on Friday, a month after opening the famed Hagia Sophia to Muslim worship.
The mediaeval Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, built near the ancient city walls of Constantinople, contains 14th century Byzantine mosaics and frescoes showing scenes from biblical stories.
They were plastered over after the city was conquered by the Muslim Ottomans in 1453, but brought to light again when, like Hagia Sophia, the building was converted to a museum by Turkey's secular republic more than 70 years ago.
First built in 4th century
A church was first built at the site in the 4th century, but most of the existing building dates to an 11th century church that was partly rebuilt 200 years later following an earthquake.
The decision to transform the Kariye Museum into a mosque came just a month after a similarly controversial conversion for the UNESCO World Heritage-recognised Hagia Sophia.
The 1,000-year-old building's history closely mirrors that of the Hagia Sophia, its bigger neighbour on the historic western bank of the Golden Horn on the European side of Istanbul.
'Creation of a more secular new republic'
It was originally converted into the Kariye Mosque half a century after the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks.
It became the Kariye Museum after World War II as Turkey pushed ahead with the creation of a more secular new republic out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey wants to establish a modern-day Islamic Caliphate and is taking a cue from China's expansionism.
It is a major point of contention other than tensions between Turkey and Greece in the eastern Mediterranean region where several geopolitical faultlines converge.