The news that Hagia Sophia's famous resident cat, Gli, has died has been greeted with sorrow by Istanbul’s residents and visitors. Gli was a popular presence at the ancient monument, known in Turkey as Aya Sofya, which was recently converted from a museum back into a mosque.

The green-eyed Gli captured imaginations worldwide after the then US president, Barack Obama, stroked her during a visit to the structure in 2009. Hagia Sophia was originally built as a cathedral in 537 CE by Roman emperor, Justinian I. It was classified as a museum in 1934 after a declaration from Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first Turkish president and founder of the Republic of Turkey. 

Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia converted from a museum to a mosque

Considered a jewel of Byzantine architecture, the Unesco World Heritage site was the cat's home for 16 years, and visitors loved seeing her there and capturing photos with her.

Gli had 130k followers on Instagram, where her activities were documented by her loyal minders. After the monument reverted back into a mosque this year, authorities confirmed that it would remain her home although it is now used as an active worship space. However, the cat sadly became ill in September and was moved to a veterinary clinic for treatment, but subsequently sadly passed away from old age. Her passing has inspired an outpouring of love from fans, including senior Turkish figures.

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
The Hagia Sophia was recently converted from a museum back into a mosque © Salvator Barki/Getty Images

"I am sorry to lose Gli," tweeted Istanbul governor, Ali Yerlikaya in a Turkish-language post. "Hagia Sophia's cat Gli, who has been treated in a private veterinary clinic in Levent since September 24, unfortunately, passed away due to old age. We will never forget you, Gli."

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