Church asked to become museum

Church asked to become museum

Church asked to become museum

The residents of Mursallı neighborhood in the Germencik district of the western province of Aydın want the two-century-old Taxiarkhea (Archangel) Church to be restored and transformed into a Museum of Exchange.

Mursallı, which is known to be one of the important trade centers of the province before the population exchange, still maintains its importance both commercially and as a population exchange settlement.

After the population exchange agreement signed in Lausanne on Jan. 30, 1923, the neighborhood gained importance with the refugees from the villages of Grevena city of Greece. The village attracts attention with its historical texture.

People living there, on the other hand, want the two-century-old historical church, which has become the symbol of Mursallı and is about to disappear over time, to be restored and converted into the Museum of Exchange. They think that the church can make a significant contribution to Aydın tourism.

Retired teacher Fikret Özer, born and raised in Mursallı, stated that the people living in their neighborhood came from the Grevena district of Thessaloniki in Greece in 1924 and said, “Now Grevena is a province. People from 13 different villages of Grevena settled here. The name of the church here is Taxiarkhea. This church was built in 1857. I learned this information from the refugees who migrated from here. This church was first used as a school by the immigrants who came here, then it was converted into a mosque, then it became a movie theater. Later, it served as a wedding hall and a fig store. Finally, it was transferred to the Treasury and is under protection.”

Özer said that the church is in a state of demolition, adding, “The church is about to collapse and is in a dilapidated condition. We want this church to be restored and turned into a Museum of Exchange. If it is converted into a museum, the artifacts to be displayed there can be given by people of our village. It is possible to establish this museum with items and data from our ancestors. In addition to the church, there are also houses, which are under protection, in the village. I think it is important to restore these houses and bring them into tourism.”

He stated that another interesting situation in the village is that people still know the Greek language and speak Greek among themselves.

“I believe that this will solve an important language problem in tourism for the people who will come to our village. If this place is converted into an exchange museum, it becomes an important source of income with festival organizations. We need the support of local governments and the state,” Özer said.

There is a priest tomb in the church

Noting that there is also the tomb of a priest in the church, Özer said, “The priest is named Anastasias. Since this priest was declared a 37-year-old saint, he was buried in this church. Normally, church priests are buried in the courtyard, but because this person was claimed to be a saint, he was buried inside the church. In this respect, it is a remarkable feature of the church.”

Mursallı neighborhood headman Ali Demir said that serious cracks occurred on the walls of the church after the İzmir earthquake in 2020.

“Many people want this historical church to be restored and turned into an exchange museum. We have submitted the petitions to the Culture Ministry. I also told the Governor about the subject and showed the photos. This place will be destroyed in another big earthquake and history will disappear. This place is an asset for us, a symbol for Mursallı. If this place is organized, it may become like Şirince in the future. For example, excavations cannot be carried out here since the square is a protected area, but we want to make arrangements on it with decorative stones in accordance with the history of the church. We are ready to do our best as the residents of this neighborhood for the establishment of an exchange museum,” Demir said.