Memories and History Aya Sofia Research Paper

Pages: 7 (2224 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

In 1934, Turkey's first president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had altered the Aya Sofia into a museum (Aydingun, Sengul, and Mark Rose). This change was in accordance to the president's belief in a more secularized, more westernized Turkey; and in doing so he financed workers to removing the plaster that had covered the Byzantine artwork for centuries. As an agnostic, Ataturk also lessened the power held by the major religious orders of the country, closing Islamic religious schools and banning the nature of the veil as a sign of modernization (Bordewich, Fergus).

Overall, Turkish nationalism had created the secularized decision to make the Aya Sofia a museum. "Fellow countrymen, you must realize that the Turkish Republic cannot be the country of sheikhs or dervishes. If we want to be men, we must carry out the dictates of civilization" (Bordewich, Fergus). This change, however, has not struck a unanimous chord in many local and national factions. To be sure, by making the Aya Sofia a secularized museum, religious sides have formed, fighting for the right to return Aya Sofia to its Christian or Muslim background.

On one side, scholars have been fighting for the reinstatement of the Aya Sofia as a Christian entity. In 2005, an argument had emerged regarding the entry of Turkey into the European Union; as a stipulation for entry, Swiss scholars had requested that the Aya Sofia be restored as a place of Christian worship. "This is not a public building that changed ownership with the conquest of a war -- Hagia Sophia is a place of God, Christendom's grandest place of worship for over 900 years" ("Swiss Scholars Want Hagia Sophia Returned").

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Another argument -- one vehemently led by the Turkish Grand Unity Party -- insists that the Aya Sofia should be returned to the Muslims as a mosque. "The authorities must protect the rights of Muslims, constituting 99% of [the] total population in Turkey. They must restore the status of mosque to Aya Sofia, as they opened Sumela and Akdamar churches for praying" (Hafizoglu, R.). Unity Party chairman Yalcin Topcu had reasoned that the Sumela and the Akdamar churches were returned to the Christians for prayer, yet the Muslims were banned from any Islamic prayer in the Aya Sofia (Siegel, Robert).

7. Conclusion

Research Paper on Memories and History Aya Sofia's Assignment

History has time and time again shown the longevity and the veneration of the Aya Sofia. The Byzantine Empire paid for and cultivated the Aya Sofia's creation, and for over 1000 years, it was a place of holy Christian worship. The Ottoman Empire sought to renovate and alter the Aya Sofia into their religious practices, converting it into a mosque that would allow many spiritual pilgrimages to be sought in Constantinople; this lasted over 900 years. The Turkish Republic turned towards a more secularized state, and changed the Aya Sofia into a museum, creating increased tensions between the religious factions vying for the reclaiming of a Christian or Muslim structure.

"Istanbul is a city of crossroads. It's a place where East meets West; a spot where Christianity and Islam have come face-to-face for centuries; a city which still stands somewhere between modernity and age-old tradition" (Franko, Elyse). The Aya Sofia, the "Church of Holy Wisdom," only further confirms this mixture of cultures and religions.

Works Cited

"A Brief History of Hagia Sophia -" Web. 27 May 2011. .

"Hagia Sophia." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition (2010): 1. Literary Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 23 May 2011.

"Swiss Scholars Want Hagia Sophia Returned." America 193.8 (2005): 7. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 23 May 2011.

Aydingun, Sengul, and Mark Rose. "Saving a Fabled Sanctuary." Archaeology 56.6 (2003): 20. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 23 May 2011.

Bordewich, Fergus M. "A Monumental Struggle to Preserve Hagia Sophia." Dec. 2008. Web. 27 May 2011. .

Bordewich, Fergus M. "FADING GLORY." Smithsonian 39.9 (2008): 54-64. History Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 23 May 2011.

Franko, Elyse. "The Hagia Sophia." World & I 22.9 (2007): 4. History Reference Center. EBSCO. Web. 23 May 2011.

Hafizoglu, R. "Turkish opposition leader: Aya Sofia must regain status of mosque." Trend News Agency 27 Aug. 2010: Newspaper Source Plus. EBSCO. Web. 23 May 2011.

Henry, Shukman. "CHOICE TABLES: ISTANBUL; Fresh as the Morning, or Rooted in Centuries

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APA Style

Memories and History Aya Sofia.  (2011, May 30).  Retrieved September 30, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Memories and History Aya Sofia."  30 May 2011.  Web.  30 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Memories and History Aya Sofia."  May 30, 2011.  Accessed September 30, 2020.