BY RAFFI BEDROSYAN
From The Armenian Weekly
On July 21, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee overwhelmingly adopted the Berman-Cicilline Amendment based upon the Return of Churches resolution spearheaded by Representatives Ed Royce and Howard Berman, with a vote of 43 to 1, calling on Turkey to return stolen Armenian and other Christian churches, and to end the repression of its Christian minorities.
Where are these lost or stolen Armenian churches in Turkey? How many were there before 1915, the turning point in the Armenians’ world, when they were uprooted and wiped out from their homeland of more than 3,000 years? How many churches are there now? Considering that every Armenian community invariably strove to build a school beside its church, how many Armenian schools were there in Turkey before 1915, and how many are there now? How many Armenian churches and schools are left standing now in Turkey is the easier part of the issue: There are only 34 churches and 18 schools left in Turkey today, mostly in Istanbul, with about less than 3,000 students in these schools. The challenging and frustrating issue is how many were there in the past.
Recent research pegs the number of Armenian churches in Turkey before 1915 at around 2,300. The number of schools before 1915 is estimated at nearly 700, with 82,000 students. These numbers are only for churches and schools under the jurisdiction of the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate and the Apostolic Church, and therefore do not include the numerous churches and schools belonging to the Protestant and Catholic Armenian parishes. The American colleges and missionary schools, mostly attended by Armenian youth, are also excluded from these numbers. The number of Armenian students attending Turkish schools or small schools at homes in the villages are unknown and not included. Finally, these numbers do not include the churches and schools in Kars and Ardahan provinces, which were not part of Turkey until 1920, and were part of Russia since 1878.
The two maps show the wide distribution of Armenian churches and schools in Turkey before 1915. The two lists for the Armenian churches and schools are by no means complete, but should be regarded as a preliminary study that can serve as foundation for further research. The place names are based on the old Ottoman administrative system, instead of that of modern Turkey. They are ably assembled by Zakarya Mildanoglu, from various sources such as the Ottoman Armenian National Council Annual reports, Echmiadzin Journal, Vienna Mkhitarists, and studies by Teotig, Kevorkian, and Nishanyan.
Adana: Center and villages, Yureghir, Ceyhan, Tarsus, Silifke, Yumurtalik, Dortyol, Iskenderun, 25 churches
Amasya: Vezirkopru, Mecitozu, Merzifon, Havza, Gumushacikoy, Ladik, 15 churches
Ankara: Center, Haymana, Sincan, 5 churches
Antakya: Center, Samandagh, 7 churches
Antep: Center, Nizip, Halfeti, 4 churches
Arapkir (Malatya): Arapkir and Kemaliye villages, 19 churches
Arganimadeni (Elazig): Erganis, Siverek, Bulanik, Kahta, 10 churches
Armash (Akmeshe): 2 churches
Artvin: Center and villages, 11 churches
Balikesir: Balikesir, Mustafakemalpasha, Biga, Bandirma, 6 churches
Bayburt: Bayburt center and villages, 34 churches
Beshiri (Diyarbakir): Beshiri and villages, 14 churches
Bilecik (Bursa): Golpazar, 4 churches
Bingol (Genc): Center and villages, 11 churches
Bitlis: Center and villages, 30 churches
Bitlis: Tatvan, Ahlat, Mutki, Hizan, 66 churches
Bolu: Duzce, Akyazi, 5 churches
Bursa: Center, Orhangazi, 11 churches
Charsancak ( Tunceli): Mazgirt, pertek, Pulumur, Hozat, and villages, 93 churches
Chemishgezek (Tunceli): 20 churches
Chungush (Diyarbakir): Chungush center and villages, 2 churches
Dersim: Hozat, Pertek, 28 churches
Divrigi (Sivas): Center and villages, 25 churches
Diyadin (Erzurum): Diyadin and villages, 4 churches
Diyarbakir: Center and villages, 11 churches
Edirne: Center and villages, 4 churches
Egin (Erzincan): Kemaliye, Ilic, and villages, 17 churches
Egin: 3 churches
Eleshkirt (Erzurum): Eleshkirt and villages, 6 churches
Ergani: Ergani and villages, 11 churches
Erzincan: Erzincan center and villages, 52 churches
Erzurum: Center, Aziziye, Yakutiye, Ashkale, Narman, Ispir, Oltu, Shenkaya, Horasan, Pazaryolu, and villages, 65 churches
Giresun: Tirebolu, 1 church
Gumushane: Center, 4 churches
Gurun (Sivas): Center and villages, 5 churches
Harput (Elazig): Harput center and villages, Karakochan, Palu, Keban, 67 churches
Hinis (Erzurum): Hinis and villages, 19 churches
Hoshap: Hoshap and villages, 14 churches
Istanbul: European/Trachean region, 36 churches; Asian/Anatolian region, 8 churches; total 44 churches
Izmir: Center and villages, Manisa, Turgutlu, Akhisar, Bergama, Nazilli, Odemish, 23 churches
Izmit: Gebze, Kocaeli, Sakarya, Kandira, Geyve, Karamursel, 50 churches
Kastamonu: Tashkopru, Boyabat, Inebolu, 7 churches
Kayseri: Center and villages, Nigde, Aksaray, Bor, Nevshehir, Tomarza, Develi, Bunyan, Talas, 57 churches
Kemah (Erzincan): Kemah and villages, 14 churches
Kighi (Bingol): Kighi and villages, 58 churches
Konya: Center, Bor, Burdur, Nevshehir, 7 churches
Kutahya: Center, Tavshanli, 7 churches
Lice: Lice and villages, 19 churches
Mardin: Center and villages, 3 churches
Mush: Center and villages, Batman, Malazgirt, Bulanik, Varto, Hizan, 148 churches
Ordu: Karaduz, Ulubey, 3 churches
Palu (Elazig): Palu center, Kovancilar, Karakochan, and villages, 44 churches
Pasinler (Erzurum): Pasinler and villages, 4 churches
Pulumur (Tunceli): Pulumur and villages, 6 churches
Rize: Yolusti: 1 church
Samsun (Canik): Center and villages, 43 churches
Samsun: Ordu, 1 church
Shebin Karahisar: Shebinkaya center, Giresun, and part of Sivas, 32 churches
Silvan (Diyarbakir): Silvan and villages, 34 churches
Sivas: Center and villages, Hafik, Zara, Ulash, Yildizeli, Sariz, Bunyan/Ekrek, Gemerek, 110 churches
Tercan (Erzincan): Erzincan and Tercan villages, 33 churches
Tokat: Center and villages, 32 churches
Trabzon: Center and villages, Of, Machka, Surmene, Akchaabat, Fatsa, Yorma, Arakli, 89 churches
Urfa: Center and villages, Birecik, Siverek, Suruch, Hikvan, Harran, Bozova, Halfeti, 17 churches
Van: Center and villages, Edremit, Gurpinar, Edremit, ozalp, Ercish, Timar, muradiye, Tatvan, Bashkale, Gevash, Bahchesaray, Chatak 322 churches
Yozgat: Center and villages, Bogazliyan, Sarikaya, Cayiralan, Sorgun, Shefaatli, and villages, 51 churches
Yusufeli (Artvin): Center and villages 4 churches
Zeytun (Marash): Center and villages 14 churches
Adana: 25 schools, 1,947 boys, 808 girls, 2755 students, 40 male, 29 female, 69 teachers
Akhtamar: 32 schools, 1,106 boys, 132 girls, 1238 students, 36 male teachers
Amasya-Merzifon: 9 schools, 1,524 boys, 814 girls, 2,338 students, 54 teachers
Ankara: 7 schools, 895 boys, 395 girls, 1,290 students, 20 male, 9 female, 29 teachers
Antakya: 10 schools, 440 boys, 47 girls, 487 students, 10 male teachers
Antep: 9 schools, 898 boys, 798 girls, 1606 students, 31 male, 27 female, 58 teachers
Arapkir: 18 schools, 713 boys, 223 girls, 936 students, 23 male, 2 female, 25 teachers
Armash: 2 schools, 190 boys, 110 girls, 300 students, 5 male, 1 female, 6 teachers
Bandirma: 8 schools, 700 boys, 644 girls, 1,344 students, 22 male, 13 female, 35 teachers
Bayburt: 9 schools, 645 boys, 199 girls, 844 students, 27 male, 5 female, 32 teachers
Beyazit: 6 schools, 338 boys, 54 girls, 392 students, 11 male, 2 female, 13 teachers
Bilecik: 10 schools, 1,120 boys, 143 girls, 1,263 students, 18 male, 3 female, 21 teachers
Bitlis: 12 schools, 571 boys, 63 girls, 634 students, 20 male teachers
Bursa: 16 schools, 1345 boys, 733 girls, 2078 students, 34 male, 20 female, 54 teachers
Charsancak: 12 schools, 617 boys, 189 girls, 806 students, 16 male, 2 female, 18 teachers
Chemishgezek: 12 schools, 456 boys, 272 girls, 728 students, 14 male, 1 female, 15 teachers
Cyprus: 3 schools, 63 boys, 37 girls, 100 students, 8 male, 1 female, 9 teachers
Darende: 2 schools, 260 boys, 70 girls, 330 students, 4 male, 1 female, 5 teachers
Divrigi: 10 schools, 757 boys, 100 girls, 857 students, 18 male, 2 female, 20 teachers
Diyarbakir: 4 schools, 660 boys, 324 girls, 1014 students, 18 male, 9 female, 27 teachers
Egin: 4 schools, 541 boys, 215 girls, 756 students, 13 male, 9 female, 22 teachers
Erzincan: 22 schools, 1389 boys, 475 girls, 1864 students, 54 male, 9 female, 63 teachers
Erzurum: 12 schools, 485 boys, 10 girls, 495 students, 12 male teachers
Erzurum: 27 schools, 1,956 boys, 1,178 girls, 3134 students, 44 male, 41 female, 85 teachers
Gurun: 12 schools, 736 boys, 78 girls, 814 students, 18 male, 2 female, 20 teachers
Harput: 27 schools, 2,058 boys, 496 girls, 2,554 students, 49 male, 9 female, 58 teachers
Hinis: 8 schools, 352 boys, 15 girls, 367 students, 11 male, 1 female, 12 teachers
Ispir (Artvin): 3 schools, 80 boys, 3 male teachers
Istanbul: 40 schools, 3,316 boys, 2,327 girls, 5,643 students.
Izmir: 27 schools, 1,640 boys, 1,295 girls, 2,935 students, 55 male, 54 female, 109 teachers
Izmit: 38 schools, 5,900 boys, 3,385 girls, 9,285 students, 142 male, 82 female, 224 teachers
Kastamonu: 3 schools, 110 boys, 50 girls, 160 students, 2 male teachers
Kayseri: 42 schools, 3,795 boys, 1140 girls, 4,935 students, 107 male, 18 female, 125 teachers
Kemah: 13 schools, 646 boys, 28 girls, 674 students, 16 male teachers
Kighi: 9 schools, 645 boys, 199 girls, 844 students, 27 male, 5 female, 32 teachers
Konya: 3 schools, 213 boys, 137 girls, 350 students, 6 male, 6 female, 12 teachers
Kutahya: 5 schools, 825 boys, 349 girls, 1174 students, 16 male, 7 female, 23 teaches
Lim and Gduts Islands, Van: 3 schools, 203 boys, 56 girls, 259 students, 5 male, 1 female 6 teachers
Malatya: 9 schools, 872 boys, 230 girls, 1,137 students, 16 male, 3 female, 19 teachers
Marash: 23 schools, 1,261 boys, 378 girls, 1,669 students, 34 male, 10 female, 44 teachers
Mush: 23 schools, 1,034 boys, 284 girls, 1318 students, 31 male, 4 female, 35 teachers
Palu: 8 schools, 505 boys, 50 girls, 555 students, 14 male, 1 female, 15 teachers
Pasen: 7 schools, 315 boys, 7 male teachers
Samsun (Canik): 27 schools, 1,361 boys, 344 girls, 1,705 students, 44 male, 15 female, 59 teachers
Shebinkarahisar: 27 schools, 2,040 boys, 105 girls, 2,145 students, 38 male, 4 female, 42 teachers
Siirt: 3 schools, 163 boys, 84 girls, 247 students, 9 male, 2 female, 11 teachers
Sis/Cilicia: 7 schools, 476 boys, 165 girls, 641 students, 15 male, 4 female, 19 teachers
Sivas: 46 schools, 4,072 boys, 459 girls, 4,531 students, 62 male, 11 female, 73 teachers
Tokat: 11 schools, 1,408 boys, 558 girls, 1,966 students, 37 male, 13 female, 50 teachers
Trabzon: 47 schools, 2,184 boys, 718 girls, 2,902 students, 72 male, 13 female, 85 teachers
Urfa: 8 schools, 1,091 boys, 571 girls, 1,662 students, 19 male, 7 female, 26 teachers
Van: 21 schools, 1,323 boys, 554 girls, 1,877 students, 47 male, 12 female, 59 teachers
Yozgat: 12 schools, 1,179 boys, 557 girls, 1,736 students, 30 male, 13 female, 43 teachers
Zeytun: 10 schools, 605 boys, 85 girls, 690 students, 14 male, 1 female, 15 teachers
These churches and schools were the lifeblood of the Armenians in Turkey. These buildings witnessed countless Armenians’ baptisms, weddings, and funerals; they served as learning centers where eager teachers transferred knowledge to the children; and these buildings became community gathering centers for happy times and sanctuaries during troubled times, until the bitter end at 1915. As the Armenian population got wiped out of Anatolia in 1915, so did these churches and schools. Along with the hundreds of thousands of homes, shops, farms, orchards, factories, warehouses, and mines belonging to the Armenians, the church and school buildings also disappeared or were converted to other uses. If not burnt and destroyed outright in 1915 or left to deteriorate by neglect, they became converted buildings for banks, radio stations, mosques, state schools, or state monopoly warehouses for tobacco, tea, sugar, etc., or simply private houses and stables for the Turks and Kurds.
At present, out of the 34 active Armenian churches in Turkey, only 6 are left standing in Anatolia. The biggest of these buildings is Surp Giragos Church in Dikranagerd/Diyarbakir, the largest Armenian church in the Middle East, which is now being reconstructed as an Armenian church, under the jurisdiction of the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate. The process of re-claiming more than 200 deeds of lost lands and property belonging to this church has also been initiated. The project funding and construction is already two-thirds complete, with an expected church opening and first Holy Mass to be performed on Oct. 23, 2011. At present, pilgrimage tours are being organized for this historic occasion, along with visits to other historic sites in Eastern Turkey such as Akhtamar/Van and Ani/Kars, continuing to Armenia and Javakhk. There will be more announcements about these tours in the near future.
Zakarya Mildanoglu, Agos newspaper April 22, 2011, Istanbul, Turkey
Ottoman Armenian National Council, annual reports 1910-1914, Istanbul, Turkey
Echmiadzin Journal, Yerevan, Armenia 1965-1966 all journals
Dr. H. Hamazasp, Armenian Monasteries in Anatolia, 9 volumes, Vienna Mkhitarist Union, 1940, Vienna, Austria
Raymond Kevorkian and Paul Paboudjian, Les Arméniens dans l’Empire ottoman à la veille du génocide (Armenians in the Ottoman Empire before the Genocide), Paris, 1992
Teotig Lapjinjian, Hayots Koghkota (Armenian Golgotha), 1923, Istanbul, Turkey
Vijagatsuyts, Kavaragan Azkayin Varjaranats Turkiyo, Dedr A-B, Vicag 1901 Darvo (Report on Armenian Schools in Anatolia, Turkey, Booklets 1 and 2, 1901 Status) Armenian National Education Commission Central Directorate, Istanbul, Turkey
Sevan Nishanyan, Adini Unutan Ulke (The Country That Forgot Its Name), Everest Press, 2010, Istanbul, Turkey
Raffi Bedrosyan is a civil engineer as well as a concert pianist, living in Toronto, Canada. For the past several years, proceeds from his concerts and two CDs have been donated toward the construction of school, highway, water and gas distribution projects in Armenia and Karabakh, in which he also participated as a voluntary engineer. He is involved with the Surp Giragos Dikranagerd Church Reconstruction project in organizing fundraising activities in Canada, as well as promoting the significance of this historic project worldwide to Armenian communities outside Turkey, on behalf of the Church Foundation Board and the Istanbul Patriarchate.
© 2021 Asbarez | All Rights Reserved | Powered By MSDN Solutions Inc.
I would suggest in regards of locating ” Armenian Catholic Churches and their Armenian Catholic schools” in “Historic Western Armenia”, to be researched into the Vatican’s archives, surely with their permission.
By listing all these names, the author has done a tremendous service to our community. Bravo.
Now our task is to raise funds to :
1. Assist any and all parties that will start the effort of reclaiming the ownership of these churches from the current illegal owners.
2. Make plans to restore the churches to their original condition.
3. Execute these plans.
4.Encourge tourism to visit the renovated areas.
I’m sure there are more then iindicated above.
My grand-parents come from a village called lapaj which had a church and small school. We have proofs (photos) of the existance of these properties.
Do you know where Lapaj village was situated ?
Do you have the pictures of lapaj. My family is from there and I would like to visit the area. I’d love to know where the village is located.
Etienne!! its good to know you are trying to find lapaj village, Once you find it let me know so we go and visit where our family is from.
Does anybody know a village situated in the Nothern-West of Erzincan with name Kirmana?