Glass cage to preserve Virgin Mary’s baptismal font in Turkey's Balıkesir

Glass cage to preserve Virgin Mary’s baptismal font in Turkey's Balıkesir

BALIKESİR - Anadolu Agency
Glass cage to preserve Virgin Mary’s baptismal font in Turkeys Balıkesir

The baptism pool in the Virgin Mary Church is the largest one in Turkey and will be covered with a glass cage.

Turkey’s largest baptism pool, located at the Virgin Mary Church on Erdek’s Zeytinliada, is set to be preserved with a 10-millimeter glass cage, according to conservationists.

“This church has a big baptism pool. It is the largest one in Turkey and one of the largest ones in the Orthodox community,” said the head of the ongoing excavations on Zeytinliada island, Atatürk University Professor Nurettin Öztürk. “We will complete a missing column and cover the pool with a 10-millimeter pool to prevent damage from wind and rain. Visitors will see the pool behind this glass cage.”

When the area is completely opened to tourism, Zeytinliada will become Turkey’s first “Archeopark Island Museum,” Öztürk added.

“This year we made some restorations to the baptism pool. The pool has a hexagonal structure. It is made of one-piece marble. We estimate that the marble is from Marmara Island, which is close to Zeytinliada. The marble’s size is two meters-by-1.5 meters. I have never seen such a big one in Anatolia’s Orthodox churches,” he said.

He said there were also special places to transport water to the nearly 1,600-year-old pool from a source on the island. “When the island was abandoned in the late Byzantine period, religious officials here buried each other in the baptistery. Their graves are around the baptism pool.”

He said excavations had started on the island in 2006 and that the historic early Byzantine-era church unearthed on the island was mentioned as “the most beautiful church in the world” in ancient sources, adding that its story of construction was similar to the construction of the Hagia Sophia and had great religious importance.

‘Nobody knew about its size’

Öztürk said nobody could have conceived that such a big baptism pool existed. “The reason why it is so big is that young people under the ages of 15-16 were also baptized before the fourth century. Those who became Christian were baptized in big pools. We delicately worked in the pool. Some of its columns are original.”

Öztürk said the pool had drawn great interest from Christian religious officials. “We had some visitors and they were very surprised to see this baptism pool. They have never seen such a big one. We have to promote this pool.”