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Balkanium

History, Culture, Politics, and Travel in the Balkans, Turkey, and Cyprus

Month

June 2020

Erdogan Fans Flames by Threatening to Convert Hagia Sophia into Mosque

Earlier this week, I published an op-ed in Greek Reporter on the proposal by Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to convert the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. The Hagia Sophia, which was the primary Byzantine Orthodox cathedral in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) before being converted into a mosque by the Ottomans in 1453 following the conquest of Constantinople, was turned into a museum by the first president of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the 1930s. For more on the current situation, see the op-ed here.

The Historical Memory of Constantinople, 567 Years After the Fall

To commemorate the 567th anniversary of the end of the Byzantine Empire, I published an article with Greek Reporter on May 29, the day Constantinople finally fell to the Ottomans. If you are interested in learning more about how the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople have been viewed by subsequent generations of Romaioi and Greeks, please see the article here.

“To the triumphant Ottoman Turks, glorious Constantinople, that greatest of prizes, was now theirs. For the descendants of the Byzantines, or the Ρωμαίοι (Romaioi, or Romans) as they called themselves, the long, lingering memory of the lost city, which at times reached a fever pitch of progonoplexia, or an obsession with our ancestors, had just begun . . .”

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