YEREVAN (hetq.am)—The Sourp Kevork (St. George) Armenian Apostolic Church (Mardin,Turkey) has been selected as one of the seven most threatened landmarks in Europe by Europa Nostra, a leading European heritage organization.
The announcement was made yesterday by Europa Nostra, together with the European Investment Bank Institute, at a press conference in Athens, on the eve of its 50th Anniversary Congress.
“These monuments and sites were selected not only because they tell a fascinating story about our shared past, anchoring the sense of belonging to a European family, but also because they are highly valuable to the local communities who are strongly engaged in saving them,” stated Europa Nostra President Plácido Domingo.
Europa Nostra writes the following about the Armenian Church of St. George:
For 15 centuries the Church of St. George was the spiritual home of the large Armenian community in the Turkish city of Mardin. This Grade I registered historical building was founded in 420 AD and was in use until 1915, when the Armenian population left the city. In spite of its outstanding historical and cultural importance, this monument is currently in an advance state of decay.
Europa Nostra Turkey, with the support of the owner, the Mardin Armenian Catholic Church Community Foundation, is strongly committed to rescuing this tangible witness of Turkey’s multi-cultural history. The preservation of the church and its annexes would enable the future generations to understand the contribution of Armenian people to Mardin’s history and identity and, at the same time, allow a wider public to appreciate their cultural expressions and artistic achievements.
The local authorities, who are also aware of the economic advantages from future tourism development, are supportive of restoration projects in their town, but their endeavours need to be encouraged and supported by national and European partners.
The 7 Most Endangered for 2013 were selected by Europa Nostra’s Board from the 14 sites shortlisted by an Advisory Panel composed of international experts. In this initial year, civil society organisations and public bodies from 21 European countries submitted 40 nominations.
Europa Nostra and the European Investment Bank Institute will undertake rescue missions to these heritage sites after the summer.
The other six sites listed are: The Roman amphitheatre in Durrës in Albania, the buffer zone in the historic centre of Nicosia in Cyprus, Vauban’s 17th century fortifications in Briançon in France, the Renaissance monastery of San Benedetto Po in Italy, the 15th century monastery in Setúbal in Portugal and the historic mining landscape of Rosia Montana in Romania.