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Humidity, dust harm icons in Hagia Sophia in Constantinople

Hundreds of Orthodox icons from around Turkey, which were kept in a storeroom in Istanbul, have been seriously damaged by humidity and dust and only some 50-60 are fit to be displayed, the curator of the Hagia Sophia Museum was quoted as saying yesterday. The icons were brought to a storeroom in the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in 1935 when the building was declared a museum. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, it had been used as a mosque.

�The icons were scattered and covered in dust. There was no way they could escape damage in this spot,� Seracetin Sahin told the Turkish daily Milliyet. �Of the 600 icons, only 50-60 are in good condition and can be displayed.� Sahin said restoration work would begin next week. Greece�s Culture Ministry said it would contact its Turkish counterpart urgently to find out if the report was true. It said Greece �is ready to provide any needed assistance.�


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