Historic church to be demolished

Historic church to be demolished

BODRUM - Doğan News Agency
Historic church to be demolished

These two photos show the old (R) and present situation of Hagia Nicholas Church that was built in 1780. The church building has been serving as a Public Education Center for 40 years and is pretty different from its original structure. DHA photo

A historical, 232-year-old Orthodox church will be demolished after serving as a Public Education Center for 40 years in Bodrum in the eastern province of Muğla.

“Following a report by a university recommending it be demolished, the governor’s office, Provincial Directorate of National Education and Public Education Directorate have negotiated and come to an agreement on the demolishment of the church. It will be completely demolished and the area will turn into a square,” said a Bodrum municipality council member, Dursun Göktepe.

Artisans and nongovernmental organizations have long hoped the church would be restored and to attract tourism, and disapproved of the decision.

The Bodrum Municipality applied two years ago to the Culture and Tourism Ministry to turn the 232-year-old Hagia Nicholas Church, which is located in Barış Square on Barlar Street, into the Bodrum Maritime and Sponge Fishing Museum after restoration. Restoration has been expected since then but the latest decision for its demolishment shocked the town.

Göktepe said Pamukkale University had studied the church, which was built in 1780. “The university gave a report recommending the demolishment of the church. I announced this decision. We will move the Public Education Center to another location in the Kumbahçe neighborhood.”

Three imperial orders

A researcher-writer from Bodrum, Erdoğan Kayalar, said the Ottoman sultans Abdulhamid I, Selim III and Abdulmecid gave imperial orders for the restoration of the Orthodox church.

“The building served as an Orthodox church at first and then a Greek church. Later on it served as a depot, movie theater, electricity administration, theater and boathouse before becoming the public education center. The fact that the three sultans gave permission for its restoration shows us that Ottomans and Turks value different cultures and nations. This is why the restoration of the church will be very useful for tourism. Its demolition will negatively affect Turkey’s image. We cannot explain this decision to the thousands of tourists visiting our town every year. If it is restored, tourists from the Greek islands will rush to the town,” Kayalar said.

Bodrum Mayor Mehmet Kocadon said the building was registered as a historical site. “We know that the church was partly demolished in the past. Bodrum residents think restoration of the building would be a better decision. This is why we applied to the Culture and Tourism Ministry and asked permission for its restoration. The ministry gave the restitution decision in 2003. But this final decision for its demolition was given at a time during which I was not on duty. I will work for the reconsideration of the decision. The church should be restored and benefit cultural tourism.”