Greek archaeologists concerned about access to Hagia Sophia monument in northeast Turkey

Greek archaeologists have expressed concern over what they say is limited access of visitors to the 13th century Hagia Sophia monument in Turkey’s northeastern province of Trabzon, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported on Tuesday.  

Built as a Greek Orthodox church, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in 1584 by the Ottomans conquered the region in 1461. The building, which was turned into a museum in 1964, is perched on a terrace close to the Black Sea 4 km west of Trabzon's centre.

The association has also penned a letter to the Greek and Turkish culture ministries, as well as the Greek arm of UNESCO, raising concerns over reports that character-altering extensions will be made to the structure, Kathimerini said.

Trabzon is located in the ancient land of Pontos, where the first Greek settlements appeared as early as 800 B.C. Pontian Greeks were forced out of their homeland 100 years ago, however, some remained in the region and were assimilated by Turkey in the 20th century.