World Bulletin / News Desk
The Arap Mosque, an eighth-century mosque in İstanbul's Karaköy neighborhood, was reopened for worship on Sunday following the completion of its restoration.
The restoration of the mosque, which is known to have been built in 717 A.D. by Islamic armies arriving to conquer İstanbul, was carried out by the Directorate General for Foundations (VGM) over a period of approximately three years.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, who attended the inauguration ceremony at the mosque, described it as “a rare pearl.”
Arınç stated: “The VGM restores monuments one by one. They are the legacy of our ancestors. In the last 10 years, almost 4,000 mosques, külliyes [Islamic religious and social complexes], imarets [soup kitchens], caravanserais and the like have been reconstructed, restored and reopened.”
Arınç further remarked that when he first heard about the Arap Mosque he did not know where it was, and hesitated as to whether there could be such a mosque among the shops of Karaköy. “It hid itself, just like a pearl in an oyster. We saw this wonderful work of art when we came here. It has gone through many restorations; it has burned down, it has been damaged by earthquakes since the time of our ancestors, or, more accurately, since the time Muslims besieged İstanbul. At last, we have brought this beautiful work of art back to life, after more than two-and-a-half years [of renovation],” said Arınç.
In his speech, Arınç also offered his thanks to Karaköy shopkeepers for preserving the mosque over the years, as well as for their honesty and hard work. “God willing, this mosque will stand for centuries in this country with its call to prayer, Quran and community,” added Arınç.
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The mosque was first opened in 1901 but was seized and closed in the 1920's and then used first as a cinema and then as a restaurant that served alcohol. In 2002 restorations began to open the mosque for service