Historic Georgian church in Turkey’s Erzurum to be restored
The historic Öşvank Church, built in the 10th century by the descendants of Georgian King Kuropalat Adernese in the eastern province of Erzurum’s Uzundere district, is set to undergo a significant restoration process this year.
The restoration will be kicked off following initial structural surveys of the structure and its surroundings.
Built between 963-973 in what is today the Çamlıyamaç neighborhood of Uzundere, the church’s walls, ornaments and columns have gradually been weathered and damaged over time.
Logs and irons have been put in place of a ruined column to prevent further damage to the church, which is visited mostly by Georgian people as well as many other local and foreign tourists every year. It draws attention for its architecture, ornaments and inscriptions with quotations from the Bible and detailed information about its construction process.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry now plans to carry out the structural surveying process around the church before starting the restoration project.
Uzundere Mayor Halis Özsoy said the church is “one of the most important works from the 10th century.”
“This was a religious center of Georgian Christians at one time. Religious education was given in this church. As part of the upcoming restoration project later this year, the structure will be reinforced because there are weaknesses in many parts of the building due to damage over the centuries,” Özsoy added.
“One of the original elements of this structure is that the stone quarry from the period of when it was constructed is still preserved. As a result, the location of stone quarry was determined while drawing up the restoration project and the stones to be used during the restoration process will be taken from the same quarry,” he said.
“There is a log in the building, placed there without destroying its original texture. It is known as a load-bearing column, put there by locals to prevent the collapse of the structure. This shows us how our people protect historic artifacts even though they may belong to a different culture. There is also a reinforcing iron next to the log, placed there by visiting tourists to strengthen the structure. Now we will do our best protect this building,” Özsoy stated, also noting that once completed the church could serve as a greater tourism magnet in the region.
“The weak and strong parts of the church will be identified electronically, so an x-ray of the structure will be taken ahead of the restoration process starting. Then structural strengthening will follow,” he added.