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ARCHAEOLOGY > Historic church to be demolished

BODRUM - Doğan News Agency

A 232-year-old church in Bodrum was expected to be restored to attract cultural tourism as a museum but is now set to be demolished. The decision has shocked locals, saying that Its demolition will negatively affect Turkey’s image. ‘The church should benefit cultural tourism’ says Bodrum mayor

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These two photos show the old (R) and present situation of Hagia Nicholas Church that was built in 1780. The church building has been serving as a Public Education Center for 40 years and is pretty different from its original structure. DHA photo

These two photos show the old (R) and present situation of Hagia Nicholas Church that was built in 1780. The church building has been serving as a Public Education Center for 40 years and is pretty different from its original structure. DHA photo

A historical, 232-year-old Orthodox church will be demolished after serving as a Public Education Center for 40 years in Bodrum in the eastern province of Muğla.

“Following a report by a university recommending it be demolished, the governor’s office, Provincial Directorate of National Education and Public Education Directorate have negotiated and come to an agreement on the demolishment of the church. It will be completely demolished and the area will turn into a square,” said a Bodrum municipality council member, Dursun Göktepe.

Artisans and nongovernmental organizations have long hoped the church would be restored and to attract tourism, and disapproved of the decision.

The Bodrum Municipality applied two years ago to the Culture and Tourism Ministry to turn the 232-year-old Hagia Nicholas Church, which is located in Barış Square on Barlar Street, into the Bodrum Maritime and Sponge Fishing Museum after restoration. Restoration has been expected since then but the latest decision for its demolishment shocked the town.

Göktepe said Pamukkale University had studied the church, which was built in 1780. “The university gave a report recommending the demolishment of the church. I announced this decision. We will move the Public Education Center to another location in the Kumbahçe neighborhood.”

Three imperial orders

A researcher-writer from Bodrum, Erdoğan Kayalar, said the Ottoman sultans Abdulhamid I, Selim III and Abdulmecid gave imperial orders for the restoration of the Orthodox church.

“The building served as an Orthodox church at first and then a Greek church. Later on it served as a depot, movie theater, electricity administration, theater and boathouse before becoming the public education center. The fact that the three sultans gave permission for its restoration shows us that Ottomans and Turks value different cultures and nations. This is why the restoration of the church will be very useful for tourism. Its demolition will negatively affect Turkey’s image. We cannot explain this decision to the thousands of tourists visiting our town every year. If it is restored, tourists from the Greek islands will rush to the town,” Kayalar said.

Bodrum Mayor Mehmet Kocadon said the building was registered as a historical site. “We know that the church was partly demolished in the past. Bodrum residents think restoration of the building would be a better decision. This is why we applied to the Culture and Tourism Ministry and asked permission for its restoration. The ministry gave the restitution decision in 2003. But this final decision for its demolition was given at a time during which I was not on duty. I will work for the reconsideration of the decision. The church should be restored and benefit cultural tourism.”

November/09/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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Bodrum Observer

11/13/2012 3:08:37 PM

Wrong translation! Church was demolished 40 years ago!

american american

11/9/2012 10:26:56 PM

destroying a church to build a square. destroying taksim square to build a shopping mall.

kerem atan

11/9/2012 10:15:23 PM

Chris Tahos the thing is all mosques are already demolished in athens except fethiye mosque which needs to be restored. restoration is hindered because of the racist policies of greeks.muslims in athens are praying in basements and garages.but when it comes to a rundown church all foreign readers speak out. think they consider turkey a orthodox state.churches here could be converted into another building or used for tourism purposes since the christian community doesnt even make up 1%

Mark Mark

11/9/2012 2:45:39 PM

The only way of saving this Church is to apply to have it converted to a Mosque, that is the only language the Turkish state understands. Turkey showing her true colours again. after wiping out Smyrna and all traces of Greeks and Armenians in the Aegean they now need to complete the job.

Chris Tahos

11/9/2012 1:35:03 PM

Restoring the church or not, is a decision to be taken by the sovereign turkish goverment. However such decision reflects the existing top govermental mood ,regarding religious matters, since technical solutions can usually be found. But after all, according to this logic even the Fethiye mosque in Athens is beyong restoration too and needs to be demolished. So the goverment must consider about matuality too.

sam stevens

11/9/2012 11:35:43 AM

To demolish such a beautiful building is sacrilegious & barbaric. The world looks on & scorn those who do such things. Why allow all the other historic excavations & destroy what can already be seen ? It makes no sense..........oh no wait, of course this is a Christian church we are talking about !

Michael Johnson

11/9/2012 8:47:33 AM

Interesting that no details are given as to why this building is not restorable.

Sid Mark

11/9/2012 8:16:36 AM

If the church is restored would the state allow sermons?
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