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04 June 2024, 11:18

Renovation to begin at 500-year-old Armenian church in southeastern Türkiye

DIYARBAKIR, 4 June (BelTA -Anadolu) - The 500-year-old Surp Sarkis Armenian Church in Türkiye’s southeastern province of Diyarbakir will soon undergo major renovations.

One of the historical Armenian churches in Diyarbakir, it is located in the Sur district and owned by the Surp Giragos Armenian Church Foundation.

It had fallen into disrepair due to a lack of congregation and sustained damage during the twin earthquakes on Feb. 6, 2023.

The renovation project, approved and funded by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, aims to revive the church and will officially begin next week.

Enhance tourism

Speaking to Anadolu, Cemil Koc, head of the Culture Ministry's Directorate of Surveying and Monuments in Diyarbakir, said the church is classified as a first-class monumental structure.

It is the second-largest Armenian church in Diyarbakir, after the Surp Giragos Armenian Church, Koc added.

“The structure consists of five naves parallel to the apse, featuring wide arches and a wooden-beam, earth-covered roof. The women's gallery, known as the last congregation area, has suffered damage to its columns and arches due to recent earthquakes and human factors.”

“Our renovation work aims to revive the church and contribute to the tourism of our region and country,” Koc said.

He added that the renovation project began in 2021, with comprehensive surveys, renovation, structural, mechanical, and electrical plans approved by the conservation board in 2022.

However, after the earthquakes, the church was found to have sustained severe damage, Koc said.

"In response, the ministry provided a grant 5 million Turkish lira ($154,000) for this year. This will initiate the renovation process. Subsequent renovation will be supported by the Armenian community’s resources and additional contributions. This initial phase marks the first step toward the church's revival," he added.

Turkish Armenian patriarch to visit site

Koc said the renovation work will begin next week with the Turkish Armenian patriarch set to pay a visit.

"On June 27, Turkish Armenian Patriarch Sahak Mashalian will visit Diyarbakir. During the visit, they will also make a community appeal for financial support," he said.

Ergun Ayik, head of the Surp Giragos Armenian Church Foundation, described the church as a significant architectural landmark of the city.

Previous renovation projects were prepared with support from the Diyarbakir Governorate and the Culture and Tourism Ministry allocated a fund following the earthquake damage, Ayik told Anadolu.

"The contribution from the ministry is crucial for taking the first step. Once renovation begins, we believe significant contributions will come from both the local and international Armenian communities. The church site will also include eight guesthouses, a conference hall, a priest’s house, and three workshops," Ayik said.

He added that the restored church will also serve Diyarbakir’s tourism sector. 
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