Gli the Famous Cat of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Gli Hagia Sophia Cat


Gli, whose name in Turkish means union of love, has lived in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul for many years happily greeting tourists to the historic spot. Hagia Sophia, built in 537 AD, was a Byzantine cathedral before it was turned into a mosque by Ottoman conquerors in 1453. The church served as a mosque up until 1934 when it was converted into a museum. Now, today, the President of Turkey has declared that the museum will be opened again as a mosque. Many were worried about the fate of Gli the cat who has called the museum home for over 16 years.

The European shorthair tabby cat with green, crossed eyes has been a favorite with visitors, but shot to worldwide fame when the former US President Barack Obama was caught petting her during his 2009 trip to Turkey. Today Gli has more than 54,000 Instagram followers.

Gli was born in 2004 in the museum and had one brother Pati and a sister Kizim. Gli has had only one kitten and unfortunately, she was hit by a tour bus and succumbed to her injuries. Gli is known to be a real “queen” as many have noticed her regal attitude.


For the time being, tourists need not be worried about not being met by Gli. Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for President Tayyip Erdogan, said, “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.”

Sadly, Gli passed away on November 7, 2020 at the age of 16. She had 1,000’s of mourners and will be missed. 


Gli Istanbul cat



Gli Mosque cat



Gli Turkish cat





Hagia Sophia Cat



Want to know more about the cat in literature, art and history? Then Revered and Reviled is the book for  you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 



Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats

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