Greece denounces Turkey's decision to convert Istanbul's Chora museum into mosque

A priest (left) and a woman visit the Chora museum in Istanbul on Aug 21, 2020.
A priest (left) and a woman visit the Chora museum in Istanbul on Aug 21, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

ATHENS (XINHUA) - Turkey's decision to turn the Chora museum, a former Byzantine Greek Orthodox church, into a mosque is "totally condemnable," the Greek Foreign Ministry said on Friday (Aug 21).

After Hagia Sophia and despite international reaction, it is now brutally insulting "the character of another monument of Unesco's cultural heritage within the Turkish territory," said the ministry.

Also known as Kariye museum, the Chora museum was built in the 4th century as part of a monastery complex.

In July, the Turkish government converted Hagia Sophia museum - an iconic monument of Istanbul built in the 5th century - into a mosque, drawing reactions from Greece and many other countries.

After the collapse of the Byzantine empire to Ottoman rule in the 15th century, both former Greek Orthodox Christian churches were converted into mosques and opened as museums in the 20th century.

However, in recent months, the Turkish State Council ruled that the status of the two monuments can change, and then reconverted them into mosques.

The first Muslim prayer was held on July 24 at Hagia Sophia after several decades.