Voices from Russia

Sunday, 21 August 2016

21 August 2016. Gli, the Feline Guardian of Agia Sophia

Filed under: animals — 01varvara @ 00.00
Tags: , , , , , ,

00 cat in agia sophia 210816


They keep Agia Sophia in Istanbul mouse-free the Old-School way… with cats. Here’s Gli, the Head Mouser…



Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Hagia Sophia: A Wonder of the World is in Middle of Religious Controversy

00 Hagia Sophia Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom. 17.12.13


Editor’s Note:

Yes, I know that Soros finances EurasiaNet, which means that it’s pro-corporatist and pro-Western. However, the lamestream media  (both “progressive” and “conservative”) isn’t covering this, and it’s of interest to Orthodox Christians. As you read it, do consider the source… and who pays for it.



Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç’s call to turn Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia from a museum back into a mosque is stoking a dispute between Turkey’s Islamist-rooted government and Orthodox Christians in Turkey. Metropolitan Genadios Lymouris of Sasima, a senior official in the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople New Rome, one of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Churches, warned, “We do hope that the Turkish government will reconsider and have to think very seriously”.

For over 900 years, Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom” in Greek), built in 537, was Christendom’s most important church, but when Constantinople (as Istanbul was then called) fell to the Ottomans in 1453, it became a mosque, and for nearly 500 years, it ranked among the Ottoman Empire’s grandest places of worship. In 1935, the founders of Turkey’s secular republic transformed Hagia Sophia into a museum. The iconic building continues to carry important political significance. İştar Gözaydin, a professor of law and politics at Doğuş University, an expert on the relationship between the state and religion, noted, “The Islamists always aspired for it to be a mosque”, whilst Turkish secularists want it to remain “a neutral place”, and Christians see it as a church,.

Until Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2003, the chances of Hagia Sophia reverting to a mosque were slim to none. However, with the country’s Islamic heritage now experiencing revival after decades of government-imposed secularism, the prospect isn’t entirely unlikely. On a 16 November trip to Hagia Sophia, Arınç, who oversees policy toward historical buildings that once belonged to religious minorities, declared to television reporters, “The days of a mosque being a museum are over”. With Turkey heading into an 18-month election-cycle in 2014, most believe that politics motivated Arınc’s statements. In campaign speeches for next March’s municipal elections, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan draws heavily on the country’s Ottoman past. He aims the message at both religious and nationalist voters, key AKP constituencies. The strategy could well prove a vote-winner. Recently, one teenager leaving Hagia Sophia said, “God willing, it’ll be a mosque. Fatih Sultan Mehmet wanted this. When he conquered Istanbul, the first thing he did was to convert it into a mosque. That’s why it should be a mosque again”.

Arınç has the reputation of a political maverick, a man prone to making incendiary statements that the government doesn’t always followed up. Nevertheless, the fact that Arınç has links to the mosque-makeover of two other church-museums also named Hagia Sophia (in İznik and Trabzon) means that even the mention of a similar fate for Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia sparked alarm among the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. Metropolitan Genadios, referring to Arınc’s comments, said, “We’re surprised, but not surprised, with this statement. I don’t want to believe our Turkish authorities said this in a concrete way or that they realised the consequences of this decision to open Hagia Sophia as a place of worship [for Muslims]. Hagia Sophia, for Christians and Orthodox… it represents, for us, a monument of Christianity”. The Orthodox Church has powerful international allies, and a visit to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis often features on the itineraries of visiting foreign leaders and ministers.

In the coming months and years, some observers believe the status of Hagia Sophia would become part of a wider controversy between Greece and Turkey over religious freedom. Increasingly, the Turkish government challenges Athens over what it sees as restrictions put on the religious practises of Greece’s tiny Turkish minority, believed to make up most of the country’s miniscule Muslim minority of roughly 100,000 people. Ankara retaliated by refusing to reopen Halki, a Greek Orthodox seminary near Istanbul, which many expected to reopen as part of a broad democratisation package announced in October. Greece, which sees Byzantium (sic) as part of its cultural heritage, declared last month that statements “about converting Byzantine (sic) Christian churches into mosques offend the religious feelings of millions of Christians”. Officials in Ankara scoff at such statements as hypocritical. Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Levent Gümrükçü said, “Athens is in no position to question us, considering Athens is the only capital in Europe that doesn’t have a mosque, even though there are many Muslims there”. Amidst diplomatic rancour and Turkey’s own charged political atmosphere, Hagia Sophia’s fate is far from clear. Metropolitan Genadios sighed, “We now live in unpredictable times”.

5 December 2013

Dorian Jones



Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Turkey and Greece Feud over Hagia Sophia

00 Hagia Sophia Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom. 17.12.13


On Wednesday, a war of words existed between Turkey and Greece over the possible conversion of Hagia Sophia, one of Istanbul‘s most stunning landmarks, into a mosque. The feud over the 1,476-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site is the latest to erupt between the two neighbours over religion. Greece reacted furiously to remarks by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç that he hoped to change the status of Hagia Sophia, which is now a museum. On Monday, Arınç said, “We’re looking at a sad Hagia Sophia, but hopefully we’ll see it smiling again soon”, describing the complex in Istanbul’s historic quarter as the “Hagia Sophia Mosque”.

Hagia Sophia, which dates back to 537, was a church for centuries… and the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople… before the Ottoman conquerors converted it to a mosque in 1453. After the emergence of modern secular Turkey, it opened as a museum in 1935. The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, “Recurrent statements made by high-ranking Turkish officials about converting Byzantine (sic) Christian churches into mosques offend the religious feeling of millions of Christians”. However, on Wednesday, Turkey bluntly retorted, “We have nothing to learn” from Greece about freedom of religion. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, “Greece’s spiteful treatment of Ottoman-era cultural artefacts and places of worship is well-known by all”.

Greece was once part of the Ottoman Empire; it and Turkey share a history marred by bitter territorial disputes and Christian-Muslim feuds. Mosques are a thorny issue in Greece, where the population is predominantly Greek Orthodox. Athens is one of the few European capitals without an official mosque. On Monday, Arınç, a member of the ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) said that two other religious sites in Turkey, also named Hagia Sophia, would become mosques (here and here). Its secular opponents often accuse the government of forcing Islamist values on the predominantly-Muslim, but strictly-secular country.

20 November 2013

The Daily Star (Lebanon)


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Church Near 9/11 Site to Echo Landmarks of East

00 Architectural Rendering. St Nicholas Greek Orthodox. NYC. 31.10.13


00 NY Times Infographic. Location of St George Greek Orthodox Church. New York NY. 31.10.13


St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Destroyed on 9/11, to Rebuild With Byzantine Design

A gleaming, monumental, and unmistakable symbol of Orthodox Christianity shall rise at the south end of the National 9/11 Memorial under plans drawn up for the new St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. On 11 September 2001, the South Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC) crushed the original St Nicholas Church when it collapsed. Plans to replace it on the grounds of the new WTC, across Liberty Street from the memorial, have sputteredstopped, and crept ahead in the intervening years. However, no images of the new church were available… until now. Eight images published recently on architect Santiago Calatrava’s website, the designer of the new St Nicholas, showed a building that drew inspiration from great churches of the East… Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, both of which were in the old imperial capital of Constantinople (now, Istanbul). The shallow dome of the new St Nicholas Church will have 40 ribs, as does the dome of Hagia Sophia. Alternating bands of stone on the corners will echo the walls of the Chora church. Although both date to the early centuries of Christianity, later, both saw use as mosques before becoming museums. Whilst that ecumenical provenance may accurately reflect the stated desire of the Greek Orthodox Church to create a space in which all visitors would feel welcome, it’ll almost certainly ignite a new round of debate over the role of religion at or around the WTC. In 2010, national attention focused on a bitter fight over an Islamic community centre and mosque proposed nearby.

Mr Calatrava, the architect of the WTC Transportation Hub, is known for his expressive designs and, sometimes, projects with impressive cost overruns. Certainly, his St Nicholas, which will include a nondenominational mourning centre, will look nothing like the modest old parish church that it’s replacing. That was in a decrepit 19th-century tavern at 155 Cedar Street with a little rooftop bell cote and cross to announce its purpose. The new church will occupy the corner of an L-shape block bounded on the north by Liberty Street and on the east by Greenwich Street. Already, a large bulkhead under construction over entrance ramps to a vehicle security centre beneath the WTC takes up much of this block. The church and a landscaped open space known as Liberty Park would sit atop this bulkhead, a little more than 20 feet above street level. That a Spanish architect should design a modern Byzantine church in Lower Manhattan for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, based on buildings in Turkey that were used for Islamic worship, goes to the heart of the message the archdiocese says it hopes to send with the $20 million project. The new St Nicholas is to open by early 2016.

Fr Mark Arey, a spokesman for the GOAA, said, “If I may quote Jesus, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people’. It’ll be open to everyone… the believer, the unbeliever, the Orthodox Christian, the atheist. Whoever you are, this is a space that you can come into and find some meditative solace”. However, in the near term, meditative solace might be elusive. In 2011, the American Atheists, a non-profit group, filed a lawsuit to prevent the inclusion of a cross-shape steel beam from the wreckage of the original WTC in the memorial museum on the site. A court dismissed the suit in March. A year earlier, plans to create an Islamic community centre and mosque on Park Place, two blocks north of the WTC site, attracted furious criticism. Mayor Michael Bloomberg emerged as a forceful defender of the proposal, citing the constitutional protection of worship. Fr Arey recalled that Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, the First Hierarch of the GOAA, had stood with the mayor, saying, “We always defended their right to build a mosque on Park Place. We were proud to be with the mayor that day. It was the right thing to do. It was the spiritual thing to do. It was the American thing to do”. Whilst the building recently served as a prayer space, the full centre hasn’t been built.

Comments on the TriBeCa Citizen website, which published the renderings, show that some viewers already say that St Nicholas resembles a mosque. On Tuesday, the New York Post noted the presence of the drawings on Mr Calatrava’s website. Fr Arey said that he’d welcome the dialogue ahead, “The dome, invented by the Mycenaean Greeks, was a Christian form of architecture that was borrowed by the Islamic world. There are going to be some wonderful teachable moments down the road”. The GOAA chose Mr Calatrava after an invitation-only competition with 12 other architectural firms. Fr Arey said that his design has a “certain gravitas. I believe he’s achieved mass without volume”. By that, he meant that the church, which is only 65 feet tall from its floor to the tip of the cross on the dome, conveys the sense of having a substantive presence. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the redevelopment of the WTC site, shall lease the church site for 99 years to the GOAA, based in New York City. In exchange, the church relinquished the 155 Cedar Street site to accommodate the authority’s building plans.

30 October 2013

David W Dunlap

New York Times



Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.