Dikranagerd’s St. Giragos Church Wins Europa Nostra Grand Prize

The Armenian church of St. Giragos, which laid in ruins for a century after the Genocide, was restored and reopened with the help of the Kurdish mayor of Diyarbakir.

The Armenian church of St. Giragos, which laid in ruins for a century after the Genocide, was restored and reopened with the help of the Kurdish mayor of Diyarbakir.

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey—The Armenian Church of St. Giragos in Dikranagerd (Turkish: Diyarbakir) has won a grand prize of the European Union’s Prize for Cultural Heritage, more commonly known as the Europa Nostra Awards.

In a ceremony in Oslo, Norway, the winners of the Europa Nostra Awards were celebrated and the winners of the Grand Prix and Public Choice Award were announced for the first time.

The Public Choice Award was chosen by an open online poll and the Grand Prix winners were selected by specialist juries. Grand Prix laureates receive a 10,000 euro prize.

Seven projects received the Grand Prix for outstanding efforts in the protection of cultural heritage:

Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary

Salt Valley of Añana, Basque Country, Spain

Armenian Church of St. Giragos in Diyarbakir, Turkey

Wonders of Venice: Virtual Online Treasures in St. Mark’s Area, Italy

The Rundling Association, Jameln, Germany

Churches Conservation Trust, London, United Kingdom

Programme for Owners of Rural Buildings in Estonia, Tallinn, Estonia

The European Heritage Awards Ceremony was hosted by Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport and opened by Fabian Stang, Mayor of Oslo.

The Armenian Church of St. Giragos in Diyarbakir may have been of 17th century origin, although some contend that it was completely rebuilt in the 1880s. The building suffered from appalling deterioration late in the 20th century following the annihilation of the local population of Armenians after the Armenian Genocide. The roof collapsed and the structure became derelict.

Its restoration, which has involved a good deal of totally new building, began a few years ago, thanks to the efforts of the St. Giragos Church Foundation, non-governmental groups and concerned individuals.

The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage, or the Europa Nostra Awards, highlight some of Europe’s best achievements in heritage care, and showcase remarkable efforts made in raising awareness about Europe’s cultural heritage.


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  1. Progeny of Dis-emboweled Armenians said:

    Great-grandfather Ohannes Minassian,,who was a Loosavorchagan, financed the reconstruction of the bell tower of St. Giragos in the 1880s. However, there is rarely any discussion of the two other Armenian Churches in Diyarbakir, namely the ruins of the Armenian Catholic Church or the recently restored Armenian Evangelical Church, now being used as an educational facility.

  2. Ani said:

    Thanks to the church foundation and specially to Vartkes Ayik for completing such a huge task.They did a fantastic job to rebuild this church. We need to give kudos also to Bolsahays and all the people who support financially to this project. It is a good reminder to us that we need to solve our problems without begging to others. They had a very wise approach and problem solved. I hope this will be a call for us. Thanks again!

  3. Sylva~MD~Poetry said:

    I Shall Return Where I Belonged ““Dikranagerd-Tigranakert””
    Your Name Harshly Degraded,
    Shan’’t Vanish,
    As Our Souls Breathing Soundlessly There!

    Return . . .
    Dear Armenians return from everywhere
    Return . . . to your real land From Artsakh to Anatolia and further west
    To view dead valleys . . . rivers.
    To Tigranakert where King Tigranes II (Dikran the Great*)
    Implanted his first stone to build a civilized city,
    He turned it green, like Eden’’s place.

    See the invaders change everything including the name
    By smashing every piece of rock carved with it, Changing it from Dikranagerd to Diyarbakir;
    Changed King’’s Dikran name to Diyar from word dar
    That means ‘‘homes’’ in stolen languages and . . . why
    The Bakir . . . means a new land . . . newborn!

    Return . . . To see your churches, cathedrals destroyed
    Their grounds no longer filled of marbles . . . stones
    Scene . . . full of wild plants . . . dried weeds and smelly sands,
    Bones of killed animals, and insects scattered, dry, breathless.
    No khoran, altars left to pray and call old God.

    Even the Almighty, scornfully lost his faith . . .
    Left those lands for scavengers to breathe in,
    Robbers of stones and of churches to
    Build on seized lands, many ugly shanty homes

    Nevertheless . . . still, you can see some stones
    Carved on crosses typical of Armenian art,
    Khatchkar In it the Armenian alphabet which can still be read.
    Some rocks are decorated by our ancient animals and planets.

    Your cemeteries are alive only awaiting excavation;
    Let souls of DNA arise and wrestle with slayers and
    Scream to reach the sky . . .
    Narrate what the slayers did
    In that artful, educated, dedicated people’’s fertile lands.

    Recently I saw on TV . . .
    Photos that left me smashed soundless . . .
    That ruins crossed my hidden volcanic flames . . .
    To shout where are the real humans in this life.

    On my grandparents’’ serenade dative terrains . . .
    There were schools, colleges, goldsmiths, music, art . . .
    On every corner, the bells jingled calling saints.
    My grandmother used to say,
    ““Our house was near the cathedral **
    Every Sunday the city was quiet
    Believers attended there to pray!””
    (C) Sylva Portoian,MD,FRCP, UK
    From my poetry collection forwarded to P.Obama
    My Son -My Sun Chants Ann, Obama’s Mother
    June 27, 2010

  4. Rev. Fr. Aram Stepanian said:

    My parents and grandparents being Dikranagerdtzis, I am so thankful and proud of those who thought and supported to build the House of God, St. Giragos church. God bless you all.
    Fr. Aram