1700-year-old Assyrian church in Turkey’s east put up for sale for $875,000
MARDİN – İhlas News Agency
The Mor Yuhanna church located in the district of Artuklu is registered as a cultural as-set by the Culture and Tourism Ministry but is owned by an individual whose father bought and used the building as a warehouse and a carpenter’s shop.
The church consists of two rooms, chapels, two tunnels and three graveyards belonging to Assyrian bishops.
A real estate agent, Mahsum Altay, has said that this was private property, and whoever buys it could use it as they wish.
“I think someone from the Assyrian community will buy it and open it to tourism,” said Altay.
“Five years ago, the owner wanted to sell it, too. But could not succeed. He gave us the authority to sell. We worked for nine months for its survey report,” added the real estate agent.
He also admitted that he was shocked to see that a church was going to be on sale. “I looked at the title deed and realized that it did belong to an individual. As I learned that there is no legal barrier, I agreed to sell.”
According to the real estate agent, the building has been used as a carpenter’s shop for many years. “It was a business handed down from father to son. Then it was converted to a warehouse, the latest owner wants to sell,” noted Altay.
He also emphasized the importance of the tunnels below. Due to the measurements that the agent has made, “one tunnel leads to Deyrulzafaran Monastery whereas the other leads to the castle.”
Noting that tunnels are the values of the church, Altay said, “One who buys has to take care and keep in mind the importance of the tunnels and the fact that the religious fig-ures inside are untouched.”
The Assyrian community has largely expressed their sadness at this decision, stating that the church should remain a church, and it should be transferred to the Mardin Deyrul-zafaran Foundation. They stated that they would have bought the church if there were sufficient funds, but now they have asked the relevant institutions instead to intervene in preventing the sale.