1,800-year-old Greek Orthodox church faces risk of collapse

1,800-year-old Greek Orthodox church faces risk of collapse

MARMARİS - Doğan News Agency
1,800-year-old Greek Orthodox church faces risk of collapse

A 1,800-year-old Greek Orthodox Church and its monastery situated on the Kameriye (Kamelya) Island in the Aegean Sea, just off the Aegean province of Muğla’s Marmaris district, is facing risk of collapse despite being a popular spot for tourists. 

Restoration plans for the church and its monastery were prepared in 2013 with the aim of creating an alternative destination especially for faith tourism. The site also draws interest from Greek Orthodox believers, some of whom want to perform their marriage ceremonies at the church they deem holy.

But the restoration works have still not begun due to bureaucratic obstacles, Mehmet Baysal, chairman of the Marmaris Chamber of Commerce, told Doğan News Agency.

Baysal said the Culture and Tourism Ministry had then obtained the necessary permits for the restoration and came up with the funds for it. 

“We did not have the authority to use the funds since it belonged to the Union of Municipalities. When the island was within the borders of the Bozburun Municipality, we negotiated with its then-Mayor Cemil Şener and decided to do the restoration together. The process took long and we could not start the work. Later, when Muğla became a metropolitan municipality, Mayor Osman Gürün undertook the restoration project, but this time we faced issues with the funds’ allocation before the municipality applied to the court. We are constantly in touch with Mr. Gürün. The issue is now a judicial case. We are waiting with our hands tied,’’ Baysal added.

The situation of the church and monastery are drawing fury among locals too.  

Şener Öztekin, a tourism professional in the region, who organizes regular boat trips to nearby islands and bays, said the Kameriye Island was looking more miserable every passing day. 

“Although we do cleaning on the island at the start of the tourism season, the visitors abuse it throughout the season,” Öztekin said.

“All the trees on the island have been converted into a ‘wish tree,’ covered with pieces of cloths. During the season, almost 1,000 visitors come here every day. Years ago, somebody tied a cloth to a centuries-old olive tree and everybody else continued to do so, with hopes that their wishes will come true. That olive tree is much older than the church. The church was built much later but it is in a grim situation, everything in it has been plundered. I am ashamed to show it to visitors, officials must find a solution to this situation,” Öztekin added.