[MGSA-L] Protecting Greece's Ottoman monuments

June Samaras june.samaras at gmail.com
Tue Dec 3 13:52:29 PST 2013


  Tuesday December 3, 2013 Search

Protecting Greece's Ottoman monuments

By Iota Sykka

Greek Culture Ministry officials have mostly shunned recent comments by
Bulent Arinc, Turkey's deputy prime minister, who called for Istanbul's
Hagia Sophia, now a museum, to be converted into a mosque.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in the past said that the
world-famous monument, designed as a Christian basilica in the 6th century,
should stay as it is. After all, any plan to modify it would meet with
opposition from the global scientific community.

If Arinc's statements have caused some degree of frustration, it is because
of his purported lecturing to the Greek side: “It is widely known that
Greece has ignored its Ottoman temples and cultural monuments,” he said.

However, actions speak louder than words. Since the years of the Community
Support Framework (CSF) up until those of the more recent National
Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), Greece's Culture Ministry has planned
the restoration of at least 33 Ottoman-era monuments across the country, at
a cost of over 30 million euros.

A key project is the 4.156-million-euro restoration of the Bayezid (Mehmed
I) Mosque in Didymoteicho, northern Greece, which has been described as the
most important Islamic monument on the European continent.

There is also a mosque on the island of Chios, in the eastern Aegean, which
has been renovated and now operates as a museum. Works are also under way
to restore Ottoman monuments on the Dodecanese islands, the Imaret Monument
in Komotini, which is one of the oldest in Thrace, and the Ottoman baths on
the island of Lesvos.

And currently authorities are also carrying out restoration works on the
Neratze Mosque in Rethymno, Crete – also known as Gazi Hussein Pasha or
Odeio (conservatory), as the young locals call it – with its impressive
doorframe and imposing minaret.

Moreover, Greek authorities have given the green light for restoration work
on the Ottoman mausoleum (Tourbes) of the Muslim saint Musa Baba in
Thessaloniki's Terpsithea Square, as well as the Fethiye (Conqueror)
Mosque, an Ottoman mosque built on the ruins of a Byzantine basilica in
central Athens. True, it took 15 years, but too this will open to the
public in the Roman Agora at some point.

These are not the only projects, but they are enough to show that there is
a great deal of respect for a civilization and history that is in part
shared between the two neighboring states.
June Samaras
2020 Old Station Rd
Canada L5M 2V1
Tel : 905-542-1877
E-mail : june.samaras at gmail.com
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