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Turkey’s Hagia Sophia of Enez to reopen for worship

ANKARA (AA): The historical Enez Fatih Mosque in the northwestern province of Edirne will reopen for worship after 56 years with the completion of its restoration.

The structure, which is also known as the “Hagia Sophia of Enez,” is estimated to have been built by the Byzantine Empire in the 12th century. Constructed as a church, it was converted into a mosque after Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, also known as Mehmed the Conqueror, conquered the town of Enez in modern-day Edirne province, which belonged to the Genoese at the time, as well as the islands of Thassos, Lemnos and Samothrace in 1456.

The Enez Castle and Enez Fatih Mosque are seen side by side, Edirne, northwestern Turkey, June 13, 2021. (AA Photo)
An aerial view from the Enez Fatih Mosque, Edirne, northwestern Turkey, June 13, 2021. (AA Photo)

A mihrab, which is a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla, that is, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca that Muslims should face when praying, was built in the southeast of the building along with a minbar (pulpit) in the west, as well as a minaret made of cut stone. A section of the mosque, which was repaired several times in the 1700s during the Ottoman period, was destroyed in an earthquake in 1965. The mosque was not repaired after the natural disaster and gradually deteriorated over time.

The General Directorate of Foundations included the mosque in its restoration program in 2015. As part of the directorate’s restoration, detailed research was carried out through laser scannings and material analyses as well as sonic and seismic tests. After the reconstruction of the mosque was approved by the Edirne Cultural Heritage Preservation Regional Board, work launched in 2016. Since the mosque is located in the Enez Castle, which is a first-degree archaeological site, the restoration was meticulously carried out.

An interior view from the Enez Fatih Mosque, Edirne, northwestern Turkey, June 13, 2021. (AA Photo)
An interior view from the Enez Fatih Mosque, Edirne, northwestern Turkey, June 13, 2021. (AA Photo)

At the beginning of the restoration, the foundations of the mosque were strengthened. Then, construction works commenced on the walls and marble layings. Additionally, heating and cooling systems were installed inside the mosque.

The mosque, which has been closed since 1965, is set to reopen for worshippers and visitors alike in September.

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