Christianity in Turkey
|Religion in Turkey
|Christianity by country|
Christianity has a long history in Anatolia (Asia Minor) 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.
The percentage of Christians in Turkey fell from 19 percent in 1914 to 2.5 percent in 1927, due to events which had a significant impact on the country's demographic structure, such as the Armenian Genocide, the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, and the emigration of Christians (such as Levantines, Greeks, Armenians etc.) to foreign countries (mostly in Europe and the Americas) that actually began in the late 19th century and gained pace in the first quarter of the 20th century, especially during World War I and after the Turkish War of Independence. Today there are more than 160,000 people of different Christian denominations, representing less than 0.2 percent of Turkey's population, including an estimated 80,000 Oriental Orthodox, 35,000 Roman Catholics, 18,000 Antiochian Greeks, 5,000 Greek Orthodox and smaller numbers of Protestants (Mostly ethnic Turkish). Currently there are 236 churches open for worship in Turkey. The Eastern Orthodox Church has been headquartered in Istanbul since the 4th century.
- 1 Brief description
- 2 Demographics
- 3 Christian communities
- 4 Christian houses of worship
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
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 Revelation to John was 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, Iraq and even Iran, due to the Assyrian Genocide, Armenian Genocide and Greek Genocide during and after WWI, and the subsequent large scale population transfers of Turkey's Christian population, most notably Greece, and the forced exodus of indigenous Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and Georgians upon the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. This was followed by the continued emigration of most of the remaining indigenous Christians over the next century.
During the tumultuous period of the first world war and founding of the Turkish republic, up to 3 million indigenous Christians are alleged to have been killed. Prior to this time, the Christian population stood at around 20% of the total.
In addition, the vast majority of Christians in Turkey have been members of indigenous Pre-Turkish and Pre-Islamic ethnic groups, extant in the region since the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age. The Turks have had poor relations with these ancient communities of Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians and Georgians, and the previous killings, deportations and emigrations of these ethnicities, which coupled with the emigration of the country's Jews and its nonrecognition of other religions, means that Turkey is a de facto Islamic state, and ethnic Turks are almost exclusively Muslim.
According to the newspaper, "Milliyet" reports 35,000 Muslim Turks convert into Christianity in 2008. There is small ethnic Turkish Protestant Christian community in Turkey which number about 4,000-5,000 adherents most of them came from Muslim Turkish background.
Today the Christian population of Turkey is estimated at more than 160,000 Christians, these include; 60,000 Armenian Apostolic, 35,000 Roman Catholics of varying ethnicities, 21,000 ethnic Assyrians, (mostly followers of the Assyrian Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox Church and Chaldean Catholic Church), up to 22,000 Greeks (3,000-4,000 Greek Orthodox, 10,000-18,000 Antiochian Greeks) and smaller numbers of Bulgarians, Georgians, and Protestants of various ethnicities.
- Constantinople (Istanbul) – The largest Christian population in Turkey is in Istanbul, which comprises a large community of Armenians and Greeks. The Patriarchate of Greek Orthodox Christianity.
- Antioch (Antakya) – original seat of the namesake Antiochian Orthodox Church, but now the titular see. The area has 7,000 Christians and 14 active churches. The area is known for having religious and ethnic diversity, having a majority Arab rather than Turkish population, a significant Alawite Muslim population and a large Christian community. The city has what has been suggested to be the oldest church in the world as well, the Church of St Peter, founded by the Saint himself.
- Tur Abdin area is a large area with a multitude of mostly Syriac Orthodox churches, monasteries and ruins. Settlements including:
Churches of the Byzantine rite
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.
Churches of the Armenian rite
Armenians in Turkey prior to the Armenian Genocide were centered,ironically, in the eastern part of turkey, known as the Armenian Highlands, or Western Armenia. Now, the majority are concentrated in Istanbul. A couple thousand others live scattered throughout Anatolian Turkey.
There are 35 churches maintained by the religious foundation in Istanbul and its surrounding areas. Besides Surp Asdvadzadzin Patriarchal Church (translation: the Holy Mother-of-God Armenian Patriarchal Church) in Kumkapi, Istanbul, there are tens of Armenian Apostolic churches. There are other churches in Kayseri, Diyarbakır, Derik, İskenderun, and Vakifli Koyu that are claimed by foundations as well. Around 1,000 Armenian churches throughout Turkey sit on public or privately owned land as well, with them all either being re-purposed or abandoned and/or in ruins.
- Armenian Catholic Church- there are several Armenian Catholic churches in Istanbul, including a large cemetery.
- Armenian Evangelical Church- The Armenian Protestants have three churches in Istanbul from the 19th century.
Churches of the Syriac rite
The Syriac Christian population probably has the most regional influence in Turkey, as its population wasn't confined to or was centered in Istanbul like the rest of the Christian communities of Turkey were. Active churches are located in Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Adiyaman, and Elazig. There are many both active and inactive churches in the traditionally Neo-Aramaic area of Tur Abdin, which is a region centered in the western area of(Mardin province, and has areas that go into Sirnak, and Batman Province. Up until the 1980s the Syriac population was concentrated there as well, but a large amount of the population has fled the region to Istanbul or abroad due to the Turkey-PKK conflict. The Church structure is still organized however, with 12 reverends stationed in churches and monasteries there. Churches were also in several other provinces as well, but in the Assyrian Genocide the churches in those provinces were destroyed or left ruined.
Churches of the Syriac rite include-
Churches of the Assyrian Rite
The Nestorian(Assyrian Church of the East) church in Turkey was completely wiped out in the Assyrian Genocide, although they were originally centered in Hakkari. The Chaldean Branch is based primarily in Istanbul, although its church structure is centered in Diyarbakir.
Churches of the Assyrian rite include-
Churches of the Latin rite
- Vicariate Apostolic of Istanbul
- Vicariate Apostolic of Anatolia
- Archdiocese of Izmir
- Archeparchy of Istanbul (Armenian)
- Archeparchy of Diyarbakir (Chaldaean)
- Vicariate Apostolic of Istanbul (Byzantine)
- Church of St Peter of Antakya
- Church: Church of St Peter
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.
There are churches for foreigners in compounds and resorts, although they are not counted in lists of churches as they are only used by Tourists and Expats.
Christian houses of worship
(This list is not finished)
Churches of the Byzantine rite
Churches of the Georgian rite
|Notre Dame de Lourdes (Turkey)||active|
|Oshki (Öşk Vank/Çamlıyamaç)||abandoned|
|Khakhuli Monastery (Haho/Bağbaşi)||converted into a mosque|
|Bana cathedral (Penek)||ruins|
|Tbeti Monastery (Cevizli)||ruins|
|old Georgian Church, Ani||ruins|
|Parkhali (Barhal/Altıparmak)||converted into a mosque|
|Otkhta Eklesia ((Dörtkilise))||abandoned|
|St. Barlaam Monastery of Antioch
წმ. ბარლაამის მონასტერი კასიუსის მთაზე
Churches of the Armenian rite
Churches of the Syriac rite
|Mor Sharbel Syriac Orthodox church in Midyat||active|
|Mor Gabriel Monastery||active|
|Mor Hananyo Monastery||active|
Roman Catholic Churches
|Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Istanbul||active|
|St. Anthony of Padua Church in Istanbul||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||museum|
|Church of San Domenico (Constantinople)||converted into a mosque|
|Church of SS Peter and Paul, Istanbul||active|
|Christ Church, Istanbul||active|
|St. John the Evangelist's Anglican Church, Izmir||active|
- Freedom of religion in Turkey
- Orthodox Christianity in Turkey
- Religious minorities in Turkey
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Christianity in Turkey.|
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