Locals want historical Aydınlar church to reopen for religious tourism
GÜMÜŞHANE – Demirören News Agency
The residents of Atalar village in the Black Sea province of Gümüşhane’s Torul district have demanded from the authorities to renovate and reopen the Aydınlar Church like the Sümela Monastery in nearby Trabzon province.
“The church was built in 1850s by the British and the Russians. Foreigners left the region in the 1920s. Now we are taking care of the church,” said Zeynel Abidin Zengin, a 64-year-old villager.
The Aydınlar Church is in the Aydınlar village, some 27 kilometers from the district’s center. The church, which is looked after by the locals, has frescos inside its roof walls, three windows on its south and two windows on its east side.
“It is a historical building. As it is inside the village zone, we protect to preserve it against damages,” said Cemal Bıçakçı, another villager who has asked officials to renovate the church.
According to locals, even when it is not open to tourism, some visitors come to the village just to see the church.
“We want this church to promote religious tourism,” said Zengin.
“It would be great to have this church reopen to worship like the Sümela Monastery and get people of different religions to unite.”
The locals said they expect the roads leading up to the village to get reconstructed if the church gets opened for religious tourism.
The Sümela Monastery, situated in Trabzon, was reopened to Christian worship on July 28, after 52 years.