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Near East: Historic Armenian church to be restored
The two-story Germüş Church in the eastern province of Şanlıurfa has survived for centuries. Now, it will become a tourist attraction within the scope of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) Action Plan.

Historic Armenian church to be restored
The church is estimated to have been built in the beginning 
of the 19th century [Credit: AA]

The church is located in the Dağeteği neighborhood on the outskirts of the Germüş Mountains, 10 kilometers away from the city center. But since it does not have an inscription, the exact date of its establishment is unknown.

Estimated to have been built with cut stones in the beginning of the 19th century, the church has three lancet windows at the entrance.

The historic church, which has partly lost some of its features during previous restorations done, is located close to Göbeklitepe, one of the world’s oldest temples located in the city.

Şanlıurfa Regional Tourist Guides Chamber Chairman Kamil Türkmen said that the city had recently gained momentum in tourism. He said that foreign tourists came to the region especially for Göbeklitepe and also visited the Germüş Church.

Türkmen said that Armenians lived in the Germüş village during the Ottoman era and that the area was a protected site.

Historic Armenian church to be restored

Historic Armenian church to be restored
The neglected interior of the church [Credit: AA]

“The church draws attention mostly from foreign tourists. They come here but the church is not completely ready. This is why it should be restored as soon as possible,” he said.

Culture and Tourism Deputy Director Aydın Arslan said that work had been initiated for the church to promote its tourism, adding, “The surveying, restitution and restoration projects have been finished. The restoration project was included in the GAP Action Plan and will start in the coming days. We will also carry out archaeological work in the area.”

The former village head of the neighborhood, 85-year-old Mansur Özdemir, said that they had been trying to protect the church and structures in the vicinity but treasure hunters had done excavations and damaged the church. He said some Armenian families used to live in the region in the past, and later moved to their relatives in Syria.

Özdemir said that his father told about the stories from the World War I and explained:

“In the final years of the Ottoman state, young people from neighboring villages joined the war and only old people and women remained in the houses. Since the Armenians did not join the war, they continued living here. But the French and Russians took advantage of this and made them massacre people in the neighboring villages. When they heard our soldiers were returning, they left their houses and escaped the village.”

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [May 22, 2015]