newsCO.com.au – Ancient ‘Hagia Sophia of Çukurova’ to open for worship

September 26, 2017

@newsCOflash

2017-09-25 16:36:38

Having been closed since 1924, the Ala Mosque, which was constructed as an abbey in Adana’s Osmaniye province by the ancient Romans in the second century before being converted into a mosque later, will now serve as a museum and sanctuary following the completion of restoration works.

The mosque, originally built by the Roman Empire in the second century as a monastery, was converted about three centuries later, in the Byzantine era, into a church with additions to the structure. The structure that saw damages in the 1147 earthquake continued to remain in service after restoration.

During the era of Dulkadiroğulları, a Turkish chiefdom who settled in ancient Anatolia after its conquest, the newly renovated Christian church was converted to a mosque and renamed as the Aluddevle Mosque by Kasım Beg, the son of Aluddevle Bozkurt Beg, also known as the “Yellow Tiger.”

In 1924, the Aluddevle Mosque was closed to worshippers and placed under the conservatorship of the General Directorate for Foundations which oversaw new construction in the scope of a new restoration project that was eventually approved by the Board of Protection. Upon this approval, restoration works began on the historical mosque. The restoration project focused on excavation works that have since uncovered many historical artifacts and mosaics.

The formally named Ala Mosque is expected to open once again to worshippers as both a sanctuary and a museum, following the nearly one-and-half years of restoration works.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Osmaniye Deputy Mücahit Durmuşoğlu said that the Directorate has taken steps to allow the mosque to serve the local community without being subjected to any modifications of its historical condition, saying: “We launched the restoration works upon the approval of the Board of Protection and have endeavored to make this mosque the Hagia Sophia of Çukurova. We hope to be able to open this mosque to worshippers in our community in a year and a half. This structure, which has stood since the historic times of Dulkadiroğulları’s chiefdom, was previously in very bad condition and now, as the result of our efforts, the azan can be heard from this mosque.”

Provincial Deputy Director of Culture and Tourism Burhan Torun also mentioned the importance of the mosque in the context of Anatolian history, stating that they are continuing their works in order to open the construction to the tourism. Torun said, “The aim to open the mosque as both a sanctuary and as a museum will be a big step for the introduction of Osmaniye and the region to tourism.”

Muzaffer Erim, who is the owner of the company that will oversee the restoration works, mentioned that they will reconstruct part of the mosque’s roof which was previously destroyed. Implying that the historical artifacts and mosaics that have been found during excavations around the mosque will be covered by glass for protection and turned into an exhibition area, Erim added that the Ala Mosque will serve as a museum in this way.

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