Greek church in Alanya to reopen for worship
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Courtesy of Alanya MunicipalityThe historic Hagia Yorgi Greek Church in the Mediterranean province of Antalya’s Alanya district will be restored and reopened for worship by the district’s municipality.
The 300-year-old church, which will also serve as a cultural center, is to provide religious services to all the Christians in the region.
Alanya Mayor Hasan Sipahioğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 28 that the recently enacted municipalities law created opportunities for municipalities to take such initiatives.
Sipahioğlu said the authority regarding places of worship was given to municipalities with the introduction of the new law, adding that 30,000 foreigners were currently living in Alanya. “The Christians living in Alanya used to worship in places they rented. With this project, we will open the church for the service of all the Christians living in our district without discrimination between Orthodox Christians, Protestants, and Catholics,” Sipahioğlu said.
According to Sipahioğlu, there are various historic churches in Alanya, and the Hagia Yorgi Greek Church was only one of them. He said they have initiated the required proceedings to restore them, adding that they would also restore mosques along with the churches. “We want to revive Alanya, with all of its religious and cultural aspects.”
When asked his opinion on the new mosque projects in Istanbul and the Syriac church project that is planned to be built on a land belonging to Latin Catholics, Sipahioğlu said he did not want to interfere with those subjects since he was responsible for duties in Alanya alone. “Christians have demanded a church in Alanya and we want to fulfill their request,” he said.
The Alanya Russian Education and Culture Association head Katya Gündüz said they regarded the municipality’s decision as a positive step, indicating that over 5,000 Russians are currently living in Alanya. “We have been fighting to have a church for about 10 years,” Gündüz said, adding that her association has also made contact with the municipality in regards to the church.
“The only target of our struggle is [to have] a place where we could worship. We have felt its absence for years,” Gündüz said.