If the restoration goes according to plan, the tomb, which received hundreds of visitors every day prior to closure, will be open in time for Eid-ul Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Khalid bin Zayd Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, one of the Prophet Muhammad's companions, is also known as İstanbul's spiritual conqueror.
As it stands, pilgrims still flock to the tomb -- especially after morning prayer -- to pray at the visitors' window, which has remained open throughout the period of restoration. However, many are still waiting impatiently for the most intensive restoration that the tomb has seen in the past half century to be completed. The renovation, which began in May 2011, will see the renewal of the lead plating on the tomb. Embellishments will also be restored, with a particular focus on the decorative ceramic tiles. Internal and external plastering will be redone, wood and metal fixtures will be restored and the floor will be refurbished.
A regular visitor to the Eyüp Sultan Mosque and its surrounding complex, İstanbul local Ümit Güçlü said he is hoping see the tomb reopened as soon as possible. Highlighting that the atmosphere around Eyüp is unique, Güçlü said, “This is not just an important place in İstanbul; it is an important place for Islam as a religion and Muslims all over the world.”
Another visitor, Arif Işık, said he regularly travels from outside the city to visit the historic mosque. “To see a site of such cultural and historical importance to Turkey undergo restoration is a great thing. I hope it will be open for visitors as soon as possible,” he said.
Tomb Museum Directorate Managing Director Hayrullah Cengiz said the restoration has taken longer than expected due to the delicate nature of the work involved. “It is much harder to restore such a structure than to rebuild it from scratch,” Cengiz said, stressing that aside from its historical significance, Eyüp Sultan Türbesi also holds great artistic worth. “The tomb contains artifacts donated by many sultans, from Sultan Ahmet II through to Sultan Abdülhamid II. Work by some of the most important calligraphers of the time can be seen as well as the calligraphy of the sultans themselves,” he said.
According to Cengiz, visits to the tomb were banned in 1925 as a result of the closure of all dervish lodges, convents and tombs. In 1950, legislation was amended to allow 19 tombs to be reopened to visitors. Eyüp Sultan, the first tomb opened by the Democrat Party (DP), was repaired and prepared for visits after a 25-year closure. The first extensive renovation took place in 1961.,