Nearly two months after Turkey’s President Erdogan issued an order converting the historic church from a museum into a mosque, Islamic prayers are finally scheduled to occur on October 30th.
In preparation, Turkish authorities have gone to great lengths to cover priceless Byzantine frescoes and iconography at the former church, considered one of the most significant collections of such art in the world.
Photos show that the centuries old Christian frescoes and mosaics have been completely covered by white screens, raising concerns about how these fixtures were installed and how it will impact the integrity of these historical artifacts.
Mahir Polat, the director of the Cultural Heritage Department of the City of Istanbul, was critical of the work being done by religious officials.
In a tweet, he called the Byzantine iconography in the church “one of the masterpieces of world art history,” adding that the renovation was “incompetent” and the work that was done to conceal the Christian iconography will “kill the character and artistic value of the building.”
The Chora church is a UNESCO World Heritage site but it was converted into a mosque in August. The scheduled prayers will complete the church’s transformation into a mosque.