Experts Volunteer to Save Armenian Architectural Heritage in Turkey
Updated: Jul 7, 2021
Ruins from Adana Ferhattepe Church (Photo Courtesy of Anadolu Agency)
By Siranush Ghazanchyan
(ArmRadio) – Architects, art historians, and engineers have come together to save Turkey’s Greek, Armenian, and Jewish architectural heritage.
The project is being organized by the Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, as well as Anadolu Culture – two initiatives that support different communities in Turkey.
Project Coordinator Cagla Parlak said that they aimed to reach an estimated 140 structures across Turkey which are at risk, reports Anadolu Agency. The group will document findings from their visits to sites in seven regions across Turkey, including the central Anatolian province of Kayseri, the southern region of Adana, and Aegean Izmir.
Financed by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the project took a year to come together.
The project has publicized its first results by publishing a book called “Kayseri: With Its Armenian and Greek Cultural Heritage” in February.
Architects, art historians, and engineers have come together to review Turkey’s Greek, Armenian, and Jewish heritage. (Photo Courtesy of Anadolu Agency)
The team conducted a risk assessment of 18 Greek and Armenian buildings in Kayseri, including Surp Asdvadzadzin Church, Surp Stepanos Church, Sakis Gümüşyan School, the School in Molu, and the Agios Georgios Church. Kayseri, like many other parts of the country, was home to various minorities until the beginning of the 20th century, after the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian population in the city was around 15,000 at the end of the 19th century, the book states. Today, only one Armenian lives there, according to local media.
According to Parlak, the group uses an inventory prepared by the Istanbul-based Hrant Dink Foundation, registration decisions by local heritage Protection Boards, and literature reviews.
The Hrant Dink Foundation was founded in the name of a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was assassinated by a Turkish nationalist in front of his Agos newspaper in 2007. The foundation worked for more than two years making an inventory to gather information about Turkey’s cultural heritage.
The Hrant Dink Foundation discovered more than 10,000 monuments across Turkey. According to the research, there are 4,600 Armenian, 4,100 Greek, 650 Assyrian, and 300 Jewish structures across the country.
“Each structure is ranged in according to its risk rating,” she said. “If a structure is at the top of the list, this means that this building should have priority for restoration in that region,” Parlak added. “Our main aim is to ensure the protection of ‘abandoned’ structures,” she said.