Abandoned church to convert into cultural center
Ömer Erbil – ISTANBUL
The restoration project of Hagia Triada Church, which turned into ruins and became home to glue-sniffers in years in the Ayvalık district of the northwestern province of Balıkesir, has finally been approved after 16 years.
According to daily Hürriyet, the regional cultural and natural heritage preservation board granted approval of the project, and the church would convert into a cultural museum.
The church was built in the Altınova street of the district in 1846. After 1923, the church was left to its destiny as the congregation moved to Greece. The church was used by the locals as a mosque and was called the “Peppery Mosque,” which means “Biberli Cami” in Turkish.
Between 1953 and 2004, the building was used as a tobacco warehouse for TEKEL, which was then a governmental tobacco and alcoholic beverage company.
The same year, the church was assigned to the Culture Ministry, who asked Ayvalık Municipality to turn it into a cultural center.
However, the process did not move forward an inch in years, and daily Hürriyet put the church into the country’s agenda last year.
“The church turned into ruins in 12 years. It has become a house for glue-sniffers. This scares the locals,” wrote daily Hürriyet in its edition published on Aug. 26, 2019.
After this publicity, the process moved forward, and the restoration plan by Ömer Özyiğit and Tuğba Yetiş got approval within two years.
“In the 19th century, the Orthodox community constructed many churches in Ayvalık. The Greeks lived freely in the Ottoman times in the region. To show this fact, the church will be turned into a cultural center,” wrote daily Hürriyet on Nov. 9 at its feature story about Hagia Triada.