UNESCO is requesting an inspection in Hagia Sophia to ensure that the world heritage has not been altered.
UNESCO has requested to Turkey the authorization to inspect possible changes to Hagia Sophia and the Chora Church (Kariye Mosque) in Constantinople, two UNESCO World Heritage sites that have been converted into mosques, as reported by the online news portal Duvar on Wednesday cited by armyvoice.gr.
UNESCO Assistant Director-General Ernesto Ottone has requested that the inspection be carried out by Special Envoy Mounir Bouchenaki, a renowned archaeologist, the report said.
The assistant director is particularly concerned about reports of Turkish interventions with evidence in both structures that are considered valuable to Christianity, as reported by the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
In July and August, Turkey announced the conversion of 6th-century Hagia Sophia and 4th-century Chora Church (Kariye) into mosques, Byzantine churches that had been museums for decades. Their conversion was followed by court rulings stating that the conversion of the building into museums was illegal.
UNESCO’s interest is especially focused on the extensive Byzantine mosaics and frescoes that exist in the two monuments.
Turkish officials said a curtain light system was being used to cover the icons as the depiction of human figures were not allowed near Muslim prayer, according to the Islamic faith.