Gli The Cat: The Celebrity Guard Of Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque has been a hot debate recently. Leaving politics aside, I would like to introduce you to Gli the cat, the celebrity guard of Hagia Sophia, who has been on duty for 16 years and currently has more than 100,000 followers on Instagram.

*featured photo taken from

Istanbul is known around the world as the “City of Cats”. Every nook and corner of the city crawls with thousands of cats. This is the city where our feline friends are treated like royalty.

Who is Gli?

Gli was born in Hagia Sophia in 2004. She is a chubby little European Shorthair with green-colored crossed eyes. Gli had two siblings, Pati and Kızım. Luck, however, sided with Gli and she got all the attention. Unfortunately, one of Gli’s siblings passed away young, and the other walks the streets of Istanbul in obscurity. Gli, on the other hand, became one of the top attractions of Hagia Sophia over the years.

The first time Gli become known is when the former U.S. President Barrack Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan petted and stroked her during their visit to Hagia Sophia in 2009.

Gli Becoming An Instagram Star

Umut Bahceci (pronounced: bah-je-ji), a Turkish tour guide who has been running Gli’s Instagram account told Reuters, “I started noticing Gli every time I went to Hagia Sophia because Gli was posing for people like a model. I get messages such as, ‘Gli, we will come to Istanbul to see you.’ This is truly a very nice feeling.”

Debates On Gli’s Presence In Hagia Sophia

With Hagia Sophia converted into a mosque, the question arose: Will Gli have to move out from Hagia Sophia?

As discussions went on, Turkey’s Presidential spokesperson, İbrahim Kalın, told Reuters that Hagia Sophia is Gli’s home and she will keep living there.

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