The Hagia Sophia’s celebrity resident cat, Gli passed away at the age of 16 after falling ill in September, according to an announcement by Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya on Saturday.
“Hagia Sophia’s cat Gli, who was being treated at a private veterinary clinic [Istanbul’s] Levent [district] since September 24, unfortunately passed away due to her old age,” Yerlikaya said on Twitter. “We will never forget you, Gli,” he added.
Gli’yi kaybetmenin üzüntüsünü yaşıyorum.
24 Eylül tarihinden beri Levent’teki özel bir veteriner kliniğinde tedavi gören #Ayasofya’nın kedisi Gli yaşlılığa bağlı olarak maalesef yaşamını yitirdi.????
— Ali Yerlikaya (@AliYerlikaya) November 7, 2020
The world famous tabby cat spent all her life at the iconic and historic Hagia Sophia having been born there. Over the summer the site was controversially reverted back to a mosque after 86 years of functioning as a museum. Prior to that, the Hagia Sophia was an imperial mosque for almost 500 years following the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1453 and before that, the most important Byzantine church for some 1,000 years.
After the Hagia Sophia was re-designated as a mosque, Turkish authorities assured the public that the Grand Mosque would remain Gli’s home. She was reportedly buried in the mosque’s courtyard.
Gli, which means “union of love” in Turkish, was popular with tourists and visitors, including US President Barack Obama who was pictured stroking her during a 2009 visit and had over 120,000 followers on her Instagram account which was set up by a local tour guide.
Gli the Cat (2004-2020), the warden and symbol of Hagia Sophia has passed away. She achieved worldwide fame after having met with President Obama in 2009. pic.twitter.com/8B1dJH2PMY
— Oğul Tuna (@sogultuna) November 7, 2020
Istanbul is known for its many cats and for its love of cats, with the city housing as many as 125,000 stray cats who are looked after by the authorities and members of the public. Tombili was another internet-famous cat from Istanbul who was regularly seen leaning against the street steps in her local neighbourhood. After she passed away in 2016 she was honoured by a bronze statue which recreated her pose at one of her frequent spots.