Turkey to shut down Atatürk’s home in Thessaloniki on day of Hagia Sophia reopening

The Turkish Consulate in Thessaloniki, Greece, has announced that the home of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, will be closed for maintenance from July 24 to 27.

The three-day closure of the historic house-turned-museum and Atatürk’s birthplace coincides with a string of issues plaguing relations between neighbouring Turkey and Greece, including the recent reconversion of Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia landmark into mosque and an ongoing territorial spat over offshore energy sources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

On July 10, Turkey’s highest administrative court annulled a 1934 decree that converted the Hagia Sophia - a former seat of the Greek Orthodox Church - from a mosque to a museum, reverting it back into a mosque, much to the protest of Western governments and institutions.

The first Muslim prayer in the structure is scheduled to take place on July 24.

Separately, Turkey’s navy issued on Tuesday an advisory known as a Navtex, saying it would conduct seismic surveys between the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Crete. The advisory was met with ire in Athens, which accused Turkey of seeking to encroach on Greece’s continental shelf.