Armenian church in Turkey on the verge of collapse

Posted on July. 13. 2019

The Armenian Surp Poghos-Petros Church in Tomarza town (formerly Tomaratsin) in central Turkey is in desperate condition and on the verge of collapse, Ermenihaber reports, citing Hasan Gyurbuz, the former head of the district cultural union.

In his words, the church represents an important example of cultural heritage with its unique architecture and history, adding all previous reconstruction plans arranged with the district agencies responsive for preservation of historical cultural monuments, remained unaddressed.

It is noted that the Saints Poghos-Petros church (church of Saints Paul and Peter) is first mentioned in 1570. In the early decades of the nineteenth century the church was a small and semi-dilapidated chapel. In 1837 the Armenians of Tomarza erected in its place a magnificent new church built of stone. The church was used as a municipal warehouse during the 1990s, and photographs from that period show the floor covered with equipment, oil drums, scrap metal, and assorted junk. The interior is now completely empty.

About 4000 Armenians lived in Tomarza in 1915, and they comprised the vast majority of the town’s population. In August 1915 the entire Armenian population was deported. Some Tomarza Armenians who survived the massacres and deportations during the Armenian Genocide returned to their native town in 1919 but they had all left again by the late 1920s. Part of the surviving community migrated to America and settled in Racine, Wisconsin, where some Armenians from Tomarza had established themselves in the years prior to the Genocide.

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