טורקיה אומוט בהצ'צ'י והחתולה חתולה גלי ב מסגד איה סופיה
Gli the cat of Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is pictured in Istanbul, Turkey
Photo: Reuters
Gli the cat of Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is pictured in Istanbul, Turkey

Gli the cat can stay even as Istanbul's Hagia Sophia changes

With over 48,000 followers on Instagram, the feline 'Guardian' has become an international celebrity, prompting Turkey's government to promise her continued residence at the museum-turned-mosque

Reuters |
Published: 07.26.20 , 17:28
With thousands of Instagram followers and even a former U.S. president as a fan, Gli the cat is almost as famous as her home, Istanbul’s ancient Hagia Sophia.
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  • But with the decision to turn the museum into a mosque, Turks have been wondering whether Gli will have to move out — with the question cropping up daily on local news outlets and social media.
    טורקיה אומוט בהצ'צ'י והחתולה חתולה גלי ב מסגד איה סופיהטורקיה אומוט בהצ'צ'י והחתולה חתולה גלי ב מסגד איה סופיה
    Gli the cat of Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is pictured in Istanbul, Turkey
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The grey cat with shining green, crossed eyes, has become a favorite with visitors, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, who was filmed stroking her during a trip in 2009.
    Authorities have made clear Hagia Sophia can remain as her home.
    איה סופיה איסטנבול טורקיה מסגד תפילה ראשונה רג'פ טאיפ ארדואןאיה סופיה איסטנבול טורקיה מסגד תפילה ראשונה רג'פ טאיפ ארדואן
    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending Friday prayers at the Hagia Sophia
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan, told Reuters that Gli, as well as all other cats in the area, would stay where they were.
    “That cat has become very famous, and there are others who haven’t become that famous yet. That cat will be there, and all cats are welcome to our mosques,” he said.
    That’s bound to be welcome news to Umut Bahceci, a tour guide who started an Instagram account for Gli four years ago and now has more than 48,000 followers. The account is filled with photos of the cat, some tagged by the tourists who meet her.
    טורקיה אומוט בהצ'צ'י והחתולה חתולה גלי ב מסגד איה סופיהטורקיה אומוט בהצ'צ'י והחתולה חתולה גלי ב מסגד איה סופיה
    Umut Bahceci, a Turkish tour guide who runs an Instagram account for Gli, poses with Gli the cat of Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya in Istanbul, Turkey
    (Photo: Reuters)
    “I started noticing Gli every time I went (to Hagia Sophia) because Gli was posing for people like a model,” she told Reuters. “I get messages such as, ‘Gli, we will come to Istanbul to see you.’ This is truly a very nice feeling,”
    Hagia Sophia was a Christian Byzantine cathedral for 900 years before it was seized by Ottoman conquerors and served as a mosque until 1934.
    A court ruled this month that the building’s conversion to a museum then was unlawful. Erdogan immediately declared the building a mosque once more, with the first prayers to be held this Friday.

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