Christianity in Turkey

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Greek-Orthodox metropolises in Asia Minor, ca. 1880.

Christianity has a long history in Anatolia and Armenian Highland (now part of Turkey), which is the birthplace of numerous Christian Apostles and Saints, such as Paul of Tarsus, Timothy, Nicholas of Myra, Polycarp of Smyrna and many others.

Two out of the five centers (Patriarchates) of the ancient Pentarchy are in Turkey: Constantinople (Istanbul) and Antioch (Antakya). Antioch was also the place where the followers of Jesus were called "Christians" for the first time in history, as well as being the site of one of the earliest and oldest surviving churches, established by Saint Peter himself. For a thousand years, the Hagia Sophia was the largest church in the world.

Turkey is also home to the Seven Churches of Asia, where the Revelations to John were sent. Apostle John is reputed to have taken Virgin Mary to Ephesus in western Turkey, where she spent the last days of her life in a small house, known as the House of the Virgin Mary, which still survives today and has been recognized as a holy site for pilgrimage by the Catholic and Orthodox churches, as well as being a Muslim shrine. The cave of the Seven Sleepers is also located in Ephesus.

All of the first seven Ecumenical Councils which are recognized by both the Western and Eastern churches were held in present-day Turkey. Of these, the Nicene Creed, declared with the First Council of Nicaea (İznik) in 325, is of utmost importance and has provided the essential definitions of present-day Christianity.

Today, however, Turkey has a smaller Christian percentage of its population than any of its neighbours, including Syria and even Iran, due to population transfers between Turkey and its Christian neighbours (most notably Greece) upon the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, followed by the continued emigration of the remaining Christians over the next century. Today the Christian population of Turkey an estimated more than 120,000 Christians includes 80,000 Armenian Apostolic,[1][2] 35,000 Roman Catholics,[3] 17,000 Assyrian- Syriac Orthodox, 4,000 Assyrians of the Chaldean Catholic, 3,000-4,000 Greek Orthodox,[4] 10,000 Antiochian Greeks[5] and smaller numbers of Bulgarians, Georgians, and Protestants. According to Bekir Bozdag, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, there were 349 active churches in Turkey (October 2012). 140 Greek, 58 Assyrian and 52 Armenian.[6]

Christian communities[edit]

Churches of the Byzantine rite[edit]

Istanbul is the seat of the patriarchate, one of the oldest of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Antioch is the official seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East. Hatay Province including Antakya is not part of the canonic area of the Church of Constantinople. Most of the local orthodox persons are Arabic-speaking.

  • Turkish Orthodox Church (unrecognized by all other churches in the world) was created by Turkish nationalists who tried to create a Turkish national church to counter the influence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for political reasons.
Armenian church in Vakifli, Turkey

Churches of the Armenian rite[edit]

35 churches in Istanbul and its surrounding areas. Other churches in Kayseri, Diyarbakır, Derik, İskenderun, Vakifli Koyu and Kirikhan. Besides Surp Asdvadzadzin Patriarchal Church (translation: the Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Patriarchal Church) in Kumkapi, Istanbul, there are tens of Armenian Apostolic churches.[7]

Churches of the Syriac rite[edit]

Mor Hananyo Monastery, near Mardin, Turkey

Churches of the Latin rite[edit]

Anglican Church[edit]

The Anglicans in Turkey form part of the Eastern Archdeaconry of the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe. In 2008 the Bishop of Europe, Geoffrey Rowell caused controversy by ordaining a local man to minister to Turkish speaking Anglicans in Istanbul.[8]

The main churches are at Ankara (St Nicholas), Istanbul (Christ Church) and Izmir (St John the Evangelist).

Other denominations[edit]

The Armenian Protestants own three Istanbul Churches from the 19th century.[9] There is an Alliance of Protestant Churches in Turkey.[10]

Christian Houses of Worship[edit]

Churches of the Byzantine rite[edit]

Church name Picture Status
Saint Andrew in Krisei KocaMustafaPashaMosque20072812 03.jpg converted into a mosque
Chora Church Chora Church Constantinople 2007 panorama 002.jpg converted into a mosque, museum
Church of Christ Pantokrator (Constantinople) Image-ZeyrekCamii20061230 02.jpg converted into a mosque
Church of Christ Pantepoptes (Constantinople) EskiImaretMosque2007.jpg converted into a mosque
Palace of Antiochos ruins
Church of the Virgin of the Pharos ruins
Monastery of Gastria SancaktarMosque20080603 01.jpg converted into a mosque
Church of St. George, Istanbul Stgeorgeistanbul3.JPG active
Hagia Irene Hagia Eirene Constantinople July 2007 002.jpg museum
Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia exterior 2007 002.jpg converted into a mosque, museum
Church of the Holy Apostles demolished, Fatih Mosque build on top
Church of Saint John the Baptist at Lips (Constantinople) FeneriIsaCamiiInIstanbul20070102 1.jpg converted into a mosque
Monastery of Stoudios One of the exterior facades of the St. John Stoudios (Imrahor) Monastery.jpg ruins
Church of Saint John the Baptist en to Trullo (Constantinople) HiramiAmhetPasaMosque20071010 01.jpg converted into a mosque
Church of St. Mary of Blachernae (Istanbul) SaintMaryOfBlachernae20072612 01.jpg active
Church of St. Mary of the Mongols StMaryOfTheMongols20071010 01.jpg active
Myrelaion BodrumCamii20070529 01.jpg converted into a mosque
Church of Saint Nicholas of the Caffariotes (Istanbul) KefeliMescidi20070603 1.jpg converted into a mosque
Pammakaristos Church converted into a mosque
Church of Sergius and Bacchus LittleHagiaSofia20061231.jpg converted into a mosque
Bulgarian St. Stephen Church active
St. Demetrius Church in Feriköy, Istanbul active
Church of Hagia Thekla tu Palatiu ton Blakhernon Hagios Petros kai Markos.jpg converted into a mosque
Church of Hagios Theodoros (Constantinople) VefaKiliseCamii20070531 01.jpg converted into a mosque
Church of Hagias Theodosias en tois Dexiokratus GülMosque20071011 04.jpg converted into a mosque
Church of the Theotokos Kyriotissa (Constantinople) KalenderhaneMosqueInIstanbul20070407 01.jpg converted into a mosque
Kuştul Monastery ruins
Sümela Monastery Sumela From Across Valley.JPG museum
House of the Virgin Mary House of the Virgin Mary.jpg museum
Meryem Ana Church Patriarcadotur.JPG active

Churches of the Georgian rite[edit]

Locations of some of the Georgian churches.
Church name Picture Status
Notre Dame de Lourdes (Turkey) (tr) Notre Dame de Lourdes Georgian Church in Constantinople.jpg active
Oshki (Öşk Vank/Çamlıyamaç) Oshki1.jpg abandoned
Khakhuli Monastery (Haho/Bağbaşi) Khakhuli1.jpg converted into a mosque
Doliskana (Dolişhane/Hamamlıköy) DOLISKANA2.jpg abandoned
Bana cathedral (Penek) Bana, Tao-Klarjeti.jpg ruins
Tbeti Monastery (Cevizli) ტბეთი, 1888 - პავლინოვის ფოტო.jpg ruins
old Georgian Church, Ani Ani georgian church old photo.jpg ruins
Ishkhani (İşhan) 171. ishxani. gumbaTis yeli.jpg abandoned
Parkhali (Barhal/Altıparmak) Пархали, Тао, Турция. Май 2008.jpg converted into a mosque
Khandzta Khandzta (3).JPG ruins
Ekeki Ekeki (ექექი).jpg ruins
Otkhta Eklesia ((Dörtkilise)) Otkhta church.jpg abandoned
Parekhi Parekhi2.jpg ruins
St. Barlaam Monastery of Antioch (tr)
წმ. ბარლაამის მონასტერი კასიუსის მთაზე
ruins
Ancha monastery Ança.jpg ruins

Churches of the Armenian rite[edit]

Church name Picture Status
Church of the Apparition of the Holy Cross (Kuruçeşme, Istanbul)
Yerevman Surp Haç Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Archangels Armenian Church (Balat, Istanbul)
Surp Hıreşdagabed Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Cross Armenian Church (Kartal, Istanbul)
Surp Nişan Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Cross Armenian Church (Üskudar, Istanbul)
Surp Haç Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Hripsimiants Virgins Armenian Church (Büyükdere, Istanbul)
Surp Hripsimyants Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Apostolic Church (Bakırköy, Istanbul)
Surp Asdvadzadzin Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Church (Beşiktaş, Istanbul)
Surp Asdvadzadzin Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Church (Eyüp, Istanbul)
Surp Asdvadzadzin Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Church (Ortaköy, Istanbul)
Surp Asdvadzadzin Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Church (Yeniköy, Istanbul)
Surp Asdvadzadzin Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Resurrection Armenian Church (Kumkapı, Istanbul)
Surp Harutyun Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Resurrection Armenian Church (Taksim, Istanbul)
Surp Harutyun Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Three Youths Armenian Church (Boyacıköy, Istanbul)
Surp Yerits Mangants Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Trinity Armenian Church (Galatasaray, Istanbul)
Surp Yerrortutyun Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Narlıkapı Armenian Apostolic Church (Narlıkapı, Istanbul)
Surp Hovhannes Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Elijah The Prophet Armenian Church (Eyüp, Istanbul)
Surp Yeğya Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Garabed Armenian Church (Üsküdar, Istanbul)
Surp Garabet Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. John the Baptist Armenian Church (Uskudar) unknown
St. John The Evangelist Armenian Church (Gedikpaşa, Istanbul)
Surp Hovhannes Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. George (Sourp Kevork) Armenian Church (Samatya, Istanbul) unknown
St. Gregory The Enlightener Armenian Church (Galata, Istanbul) active
St. Gregory The Enlightener Armenian Church (Kuzguncuk, Istanbul)

Surp Krikor Lusaroviç Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Gregory The Enlightener Armenian Church (Karaköy, Istanbul)
Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Gregory The Enlightener (Kınalıada, Istanbul)Armenial Church
Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. James Armenian Church (Altımermer, Istanbul)
Surp Hagop Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Nicholas Armenian Church (Beykoz, Istanbul)
Surp Nigoğayos Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Nicholas Armenian Church (Topkapı, Istanbul)
Surp Nigoğayos Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Santoukht Armenian Church (Rumelihisarı, Istanbul)
Surp Santuht Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Saviour Armenian Chapel (Yedikule, Istanbul)
Surp Pırgiç Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Sergius Armenian Chapel (Balıklı, Istanbul)
Surp Sarkis Anıt Mezar Şapeli
active
St. Stephen Armenian Church (Karaköy, Istanbul)
Surp Istepanos Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Stephen Armenian Church (Yeşilköy, Istanbul)
Surp Istepanos Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Takavor Armenian Apostolic Church (Kadıkoy, Istanbul)
Surp Takavor Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Saints Thaddeus and Barholomew Armenian Church (Yenikapı, Istanbul)
Surp Tateos Partoğomeos Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Vartanants Armenian Church (Feriköy, Istanbul)
Surp Vartanants Ermeni Kilisesi
active
The Twelve Holy Apostles Armenian Church (Kandilli, Istanbul)
Surp Yergodasan Arakelots Ermeni Kilisesi
active
Holy Forty Martyrs of Sebastea Armenian Church (Iskenderun, Hatay)
Surp Karasun Manuk Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. George Armenian Church (Derik, Mardin)
Surp Kevork Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Gregory The Enlightener Armenian Church (Kayseri)
Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Ermeni Kilisesi
active
St. Gregory The Enligtener Armenian Church (Kırıkhan, Hatay)
Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Kilisesi
active
St. Giragos Armenian Church (Diyarbakır)
Surp Giragos Ermeni Kilisesi
Diyarbakir P1050690 20080427132716.JPG active
Cathedral of Ani The Cathedral of Ani.jpg ruins
Cathedral of Kars Kars Church Of The Apostles 2009.JPG converted into a mosque
Cathedral of Mren Mren Cathedral.jpg ruins
Holy Apostles Monastery Arakelots Monastery - 5-17 c. (1900).png ruins
Horomos The Monastery of Horomos.jpg ruins
Karmravank (Vaspurakan) Karmravank Armenian monastery (Lake Van).JPG ruins
Kaymaklı Monastery Kaymakli1.jpg ruins
Khtzkonk Monastery ruins
Ktuts monastery Ktuts monastery 1986.jpg abandoned
Monastery of Yedi Kilisa Varagavank.PNG ruins
Narekavank Narekavank.jpg no trace, mosque build on top
Saint Bartholomew Monastery ruins
Saint Karapet Monastery ruins
St. Marineh Church, Mush ruins
St. Stepanos Church ruins
Tekor Basilica Tekor Basilica in an 1840s engraving.jpg ruins
Varagavank ruins
Armenian church in Vakıflı
Vakıflıköy Ermeni Kilisesi
Vakifli church-DCP 8791 25p.jpg active

Churches of the Syriac rite[edit]

Church name Picture Status
Mor Sharbel Syriac Orthodox church in Midyat MidyatChurch.jpg active
Mor Gabriel Monastery Morgabrieltowers.jpg active
Mor Hananyo Monastery Mor Hananyo.jpg active

Roman Catholic Churches[edit]

Church name Picture Status
Cathedral of the Holy Spirit Pope Benedict XV statue.jpg active
St. Anthony of Padua Church in Istanbul S. Antonio di Padova, Istanbul.jpg active
Cathedral of the Annunciation, İskenderun active
Co-Cathedral of St. Anthony of Padua, Mersin active
St. John's Cathedral, Izmir active
Church of St Peter Antioch Saint Pierre Church Front.JPG museum
Church of San Domenico (Constantinople) converted into a mosque
Church of SS Peter and Paul, Istanbul İstanbul - Sen Piyer Kilisesi Karaköy - Mart 2013.JPG active

[11]

Anglican Churches[edit]

Church name Picture Status
Christ Church, Istanbul Crimean Memorial Church - illustration.jpg active
St. John the Evangelist's Anglican Church, Izmir StJohntheEvangelistIzmir.jpg active

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]