Istanbul’s Favorite Cat Isn’t Getting Kicked Out Of Her Home

Instabul’s Hagia Sophia has been an Eastern orthodox church, a Catholic cathedral, a mosque, a museum and a home for cats.

Now, after a court in Turkey ruled it was illegal to convert the building into a museum, it will once again become a mosque — and the cats who call it home can stay, Turkey’s government says.

The most famous of those cats is Gli, a European shorthair with striking eyes who has become the building’s most famous resident and perhaps the most famous cat in Turkey, a country knownfor its love of cats.

Tourists come to the ancient house of worship hope to get a glimpse of Gli — or even better, a selfie with her — and she has more than 50,000 followers on Instagram. She was also famously petted by US President Barack Obama when he visited the monument in 2009.

Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan, assured the public that Gli and her feline companions will stay right where they’ve always been.

“That cat has become very famous, and there are others who haven’t become that famous yet,” Kalin told Reuters. “That cat will be there, and all cats are welcome to our mosques.”

Gli the Cat of Hagia Sophia
Gli the Cat in her famous home, the Hagia Sophia. Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/hagiasophiacat/

The Hagia Sophia has perhaps the most interesting history of any place of worship — it was built as a church of the Eastern rite in the Byzantine empire in 537 when the city was called Constantinople, and remained that way for almost a thousand years, with a 57-year interregnum in which it became a Catholic cathedral in the 13th century.

In 1453, the fall of Constantinople marked an end to the Roman empire and Christian rule in the city. It was renamed Istanbul, and the Hagia Sophia became a mosque. The building is unique for blending elements of Christian and Islamic architecture.

The court decision to return it to use as a mosque after it was a museum for most of the 20th century came earlier in July. Prayers are expected to resume in the building today, July 24.

Top image credit Flickr.

gli4
Gli with Umut Bahceci, a tour guide who maintains Gli’s Instagram account. Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/hagiasophiacat/
Gli the Cat of Hagia Sophia
Gli overseeing her home, which was a museum and has now been declared a mosque. Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/hagiasophiacat/

2 thoughts on “Istanbul’s Favorite Cat Isn’t Getting Kicked Out Of Her Home”

  1. It’s not at all surprising that Gli is keeping her place in the Hagia Sophia; in fact, it would be shocking if she didn’t! Cats hold a special place in Islam, with numerous legends about Muhammad’s love of cats, and his own beloved pet cat. So it’s traditional for cats to have the run of mosques.
    I’m sure Buddy would approve.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s