First church of Republican era to be built for Istanbul’s Syriacs
ISTANBULTurkish authorities have granted permission for the construction of a new church for the Syriac community in Istanbul, making it the first new Syriac church to be built since the foundation of the Republic of Turkey.
A request by Istanbul’s Syriac community to build a new church was approved by Turkey’s Council of Monuments, Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos reported on May 18.
The estate on which the church is set to be built will be appropriated by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, but construction expenses will be covered by the Syriac Orthodox Church. Construction is set to start within the next few months, according to reports.
The chair of the Syriac Orthodox Church, Sait Susin, said the project was set to be completed in 18 months.
The new church, which will be located in the Yeşilköy neighborhood of Istanbul’s Bakırköy district, will have a 750-seat capacity. In terms of architecture, the church is expected to carry traces of the traditional architecture of churches in the southeastern province of Mardin but with more modern lines.
Nearly 17,000 Syriacs live around Istanbul’s Bakırköy area, with eight Syriac churches serving the community across Istanbul, Susin said.
Reports of a new church surfaced in January 2015 when outgoing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu hosted representatives of non-Muslim minority communities at the Prime Ministry’s office in Istanbul, the Dolmabahçe Palace.
Officials from the Prime Ministry later announced that Turkey’s Syriac community was set to build a new church in Yeşilkoy.