Turkish authorities are preparing to open the former Byzantine Chora Church as a mosque, with plans to welcome Muslim worshippers from February 23.
The plan to open the mosque, which has been operating as a museum for almost 80 years, began in 2020, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree converting the landmark Hagia Sophia church into a mosque.
While Hagia Sophia was inaugurated as a mosque in July of that same year, the Chora Church scheme was put on hold so that restoration work could be carried out.
According to Ekathimerini, Chora Church, also known as the Church of the Holy Savior, is another prominent landmark alongside Hagia Sophia on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
The former church was initially constructed in the early fourth century as part of a monastic complex located beyond the Constantinian land wall; it was later restored in the 11th century to resemble an inscribed cross, and the church suffered a partial collapse in the 12th century, presumably due to an earthquake.
The building was designated a museum by the Turkish government in 1945.