Christianity in Turkey

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Turkish Christians
Total population
est. 200,000–320,000
Religions
Christianity (Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, Protestant)
Languages
Turkish, Greek, Ecclesiastical Latin, Koine Greek, Armenian, Syriac, Arabic, English, German, Korean, Persian
Greek-Orthodox metropolises in Asia Minor, c. 1880.

Christianity in Turkey has had a long history dating back to the 1st-century AD. In modern times the percentage of Christians in Turkey has declined from 20 to 25 percent in 1914 to 3–5.5 percent in 1927, to 0.3–0.4% today[1][2] roughly translating to 200,000–320,000 devotees. Exact numbers are difficult to estimate as many Muslim converts to Christianity often hide their faith for fear of discrimination or familial pressure.[3]

This was due to events which had a significant impact on the country's demographic structure, such as the First World War, the genocide of Greeks, Armenians and Syriacs (including: Arameans, Assyrians, and Chaldeans), and the population exchange between Greece and Turkey,[4] and the emigration of Christians (such as Assyrians, 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.[5][6] Today there are more than 200,000–320,000 people of different Christian denominations, representing roughly 0.3–0.4 percent of Turkey's population,[1][2] including an estimated 80,000 Oriental Orthodox,[7] 35,000 Catholics,[8] 18,000 Antiochian Greeks,[9] 5,000 Greek Orthodox[7] and 8,000 Protestants. There is also a small group of ethnic Orthodox-Christian Turks (mostly living in Istanbul or Izmir) who follow the Greek Orthodox or Syriac Orthodox church and additionally Protestant Turks who still face difficulties regarding social acceptance and also historic claims to churches or property in the country because they are from recent converts from Muslim Turkish backgrounds (rather than ethnic minorities).[10] Ethnically Turkish Protestants number around 7,000–8,000.[11][12] In 2009 there were 236 churches open for worship in Turkey.[13] The Eastern Orthodox Church has been headquartered in Constantinople since the 4th century.[14][15][10]

Historical background[edit]

Early Christianity[edit]

Roman province Cappadocia was popular with its cave churches.
Paul the Apostle lived in Ephesus, Turkey. Ephesus was one of the seven cities addressed in the Book of Revelation.
Philip the Apostle lived and buried in Hierapolis, Turkey
Constantine the Great, the founder of Constantinople, was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity
Hagia Sophia built in AD 537, during the reign of Emperor Justinian of Eastern Roman Empire, it was the world's largest building and an engineering marvel of its time.

Christianization of ancient Arameans and Armenians most likely began around the 1st century AD.[16] The spread of Christianity beyond Jerusalem is discussed in the Book of Acts.[17]

The Cappadocian Fathers produced some of the earliest hagiographies in the region. In addition to writings about feminine virtue by Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzos, later texts about Nicholas of Sion and Theodore of Sykeon described miracles and rural life.[18]

The historical region of Syria became one of the main centers of miaphisite Christianity, embodied in the Oriental Orthodoxy, which had accepted only the first three ecumenical councils: Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381) and Ephesus (431). Miaphisite Christians were strongly opposed to Chalcedonian Creed that had been established by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. In the 5th and 6th centuries, the Syriac Orthodox Church that originated in Antioch continued to fracture into multiple denominations.[19] Some Armenian miaphysite Christians sought to reunite with Rome in later centuries, but their efforts were unsuccessful.[17]

The Eastern Orthodox Church split from Rome during the Great Schism of 1054. With the arrival of the crusaders many Orthodox bishops, particularly in Antioch, were replaced by Latin prelates. After the Mongols defeated the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258, the Armenians and Nestorians had decent relations with the conquering Il-khans for a time, but by the end of the 14th-century many Syrian Orthodox and Nestorian churches were destroyed when the Turco-Mongolian ruler Temür raided West Asia.[17]

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.

The death of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste (modern day Sivas) is recorded as 320 AD during a persecution by Emperor Licinius. They are mentioned by Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Ephrem the Syrian and John Chrysostom.[20]

Late Ottoman Empire[edit]

In accordance with the traditional custom at the time, Sultan Mehmed II allowed his troops and his entourage three full days of unbridled pillage and looting in the city shortly after it was captured. Once the three days passed, he would then claim its remaining contents for himself.[21][22] However, by the end of the first day, he proclaimed that the looting should cease as he felt profound sadness when he toured the looted and enslaved city.[23][21] Hagia Sophia was not exempted from the pillage and looting and specifically became its focal point as the invaders believed it to contain the greatest treasures and valuables of the city.[24] Shortly after the defence of the Walls of Constantinople collapsed and the Ottoman troops entered the city victoriously, the pillagers and looters made their way to the Hagia Sophia and battered down its doors before storming in.[25]

Throughout the period of the siege of Constantinople, the trapped worshippers of the city participated in the Divine Liturgy and the Prayer of the Hours at the Hagia Sophia and the church formed a safe-haven and a refuge for many of those who were unable to contribute to the city's defence, which comprised women, children, elderly, the sick and the wounded.[26][27] Being trapped in the church, the many congregants and yet more refugees inside became spoils-of-war to be divided amongst the triumphant invaders. The building was desecrated and looted, with the helpless occupants who sought shelter within the church being enslaved.[24] While most of the elderly and the infirm/wounded and sick were killed, and the remainder (mainly teenage males and young boys) were chained up and sold into slavery.[28]

The women of Constantinople also suffered from rape at the hands of Ottoman forces.[29] According to Barbaro, "all through the day the Turks made a great slaughter of Christians through the city". According to historian Philip Mansel, widespread persecution of the city's civilian inhabitants took place, resulting in thousands of murders and rapes, and 30,000 civilians being enslaved or forcibly deported.[30][31][32][33] George Sphrantzes says that people of both genders were raped inside Hagia Sophia.

Anglican, American Presbyterian and German Lutheran missionaries arrived in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th-century.[17]

In the 19th century, there were nationalistic campaigns against Assyrians which often had the assistance of Kurdish paramilitary support. In 1915, Turks and Kurds massacred tens of thousands Assyrians in Siirt. Assyrians were attacked in the Hakkari mountains by the Turkish army with the help of Kurdish tribes, and many Christians were deported and about a quarter million Assyrians were murdered or died due to persecution. This number doubles if the killings during the 1890s are included.[34] Kurds saw the Assyrians as dangerous foreigners and enforcers of the British colonizers, which made it justifiable to them to commit ethnic cleansing. The Kurds fought the Assyrians also due to fears that the Armenians, or European colonial powers backing them, would assume control in Anatolia.[35] Kurdish military plundered Armenian and other Christian villages.[35]

In the 1890s the Hamidiye (Kurdish paramilitary units) attacked Armenians in a series of clashes that culminated in the Hamidian massacres of 1894-1896 and the Adana massacre in 1909. It is estimated that between 80,000 and 300,000 Armenians were killed during these pre-War massacres.[16][36][37][38] Into the 19th century, the Christians of Istanbul tended to be either Greek Orthodox, members of the Armenian Apostolic Church or Catholic Levantines.[39]

First World War[edit]

During the tumultuous period of the first world war, up to 3 million indigenous Christians are alleged to have been killed. Prior to this time, the Christian population stood at around 20% -25% of the total. According to professor Martin van Bruinessen, relations between Christians and Kurdish and other Muslim peoples were often bitter and during World War I "Christians of Tur Abdin (in Turkey) for instance have been subjected to brutal treatment by Kurdish tribes, who took their land and even their daughters".[40]

Kurdish-dominated Hamidiye slaughtered Christian Armenians in Tur Abdin region in 1915.[41] It is estimated that ten thousand Assyrians were killed, and reportedly "the skulls of small children were smashed with rocks, the bodies of girls and women who resisted rape were chopped into pieces live, men were mostly beheaded, and the clergy skinned or burnt alive...."[41] In 1915, Turks and Kurds plundered the Assyrian village of Mar-Zaya in Jelu and slaughtered the population, it is estimated that 7,000 Assyrians were slaughtered during this period. In September 1914 more than 30 Armenian and Assyrian villages were burnt by Kurdish and Turkish mobs in the Urmia region.[41] After the Russian army retreated, Turkish troops with Kurdish detachments organized mass slaughters of Assyrians, in the Assyrian village of Haftvan 750 men were beheaded and 5000 assyrian women were taken to Kurdish harems.[41] Turks and Kurds also slaughtered Christians in Diarbekir. There was a policy during the Hamidian era to use Kurdish tribes as irregulars (Hamidiye units) against the Armenians.[41][42][43][44]

Treaty of Lausanne[edit]

Autocephalous Orthodox Patriarchate belongs to Autocephalous Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate

The Greek forces who occupied Smyrna in the post-war period were defeated in the Turkish War of Independence which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne. Under the terms of the peace treaty, 1.3 million Christian residents of Turkey were relocated to Greece and around 400,000 Muslims were likewise moved from Greece to Turkey. When the Turkish state was founded in 1923 the remaining Greek population was estimated to be around 111,000; the Greek Orthodox communities in Istanbul, Gökçeada, and Bozcaada numbering 270,000 were exempted. Other terms of the treaty included various provisions to protect the rights of religious minorities and a concession by the Turks to allow the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate to remain in Istanbul.[45]

Modern Turkey[edit]

St. George's Cathedral, Istanbul is the epicenter of Eastern Orthodox Church and Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople home to the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.

The BBC reported in 2014 that Turkey's Christian population had declined from 20% to 0.2% since 1914.[46]

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) designated Turkey a "Country of Particular Concern" for religious freedom, noting “systematic limitations on the freedom of religion or belief” with respect to access to places of worship, religious education and right to train clergy. The report does note some areas of improvement such as better protection of the property rights of non-Muslims.[47]

In the pre-war period American missionaries had been actively involved in the Ottoman education system. Many of the schools were closed down and suffered under stringent regulations and burdensome taxes during the country's secularization. Historically, these schools had worked with the Ottoman Empire's Christian communities, and were regarded with suspicion by the fledgling state.[48]

A number of high-profile incidents targeting non-Muslims, including Christians, have occurred since the modern Turkish Republic was founded in 1923. During the Istanbul pogrom of 1955, non-Muslims (pejoratively called gayrimüslim) were attacked, harassed and killed by Turkish Muslims. In 2007, one German Protestant and two Turkish converts were tortured to death in Malatya by five men in the Zirve Publishing House murders. Turkish media called these killings the "missionary massacres".[49][50]

In 2001, Turkey's National Security Council reported that it considers Protestant missionaries the third largest threat to Turkey's national security, surpassed only by Islamic fundamentalism and the Kurdish separatist organization PKK. A 2004 report by the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) similarly recommended implementing new laws to curb missionary activity. According to the Turkish Evangelical Churches movement, Turkish Protestant churches had only 3,000 members in 2009—about half of these were converts from Islam, while the others were converts from Armenian and Syriac Christianity.[51] Since Turkish nationality was often perceived exclusively as a Muslim identity after the Balkan Wars, the influence of Protestant missionaries on Turkey's Alevi population has been a concern since the era of Committee of Union and Progress rule.[51][52] In 2016 the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey released a report warning of an increase in anti-Christian hate speech.[53]

Turkey's Christian community has been largely non-disruptive, with the notable exception of one convert, who hijacked Turkish Airlines Flight 1476 with the stated intent of flying it to the Vatican to meet the Pope and ask for his help to avoid serving in a "Muslim army".[54]

In 2013, the Washington Post reported that members of the ruling Ak Parti had expressed their desires to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Hagia Sophia, which is called ayasofya in Turkish, is an ancient church dating to 360 AD that was converted into a mosque after Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453. It has been a museum since 1935. Patriarch Bartholomew objected to the government's rhetoric, saying "If it is to reopen as a house of worship, then it should open as a Christian church.”[55] Also in 2013, the government announced that the 5th-century Monastery of Stoudios, located in Istanbul's Samatya neighborhood, would be converted into a mosque. The monastery, one of Byzantium's most important, was sacked during the Crusades and later served as a mosque for a time, until it was converted to a museum during the 20th-century.[56][57][58]

There is ethnic Turkish Protestant Christian community in Turkey which number about 7,000–8,000[12][11] adherents most of them came from Muslim Turkish background.[59][60][61]

Today the Christian population of Turkey is estimated at around 200,000- 320,000 Christians.[7][62] 35,000 Catholics of varying ethnicities, 25,000 ethnic "Syriacs" (Turkish: Süryaniler), (mostly followers of the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Chaldean Catholic Church),[63] up to 22,000 Greeks (3,000–4,000 Greek Orthodox,[62] 15,000–18,000 Antiochian Greeks[64][65]) and smaller numbers of Bulgarians, Georgians, and Protestants of various ethnicities.

According to Bekir Bozdağ, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, there were 349 active churches in Turkey in October 2012: 140 Greek, 58 Assyrian and 52 Armenian.[66]

In 2015 the Turkish government gave permission for the Christian channel SAT-7 to broadcast on the government-regulated Türksat satellite.[67]

Christian communities[edit]

St. John's Cathedral is dedicated to John the Evangelist, who in the Book of Revelation sent greetings and instructions to the Seven churches of Asia, including Izmir

By the 21st-century, Turkey's Greek Orthodox population had declined to only around 2,000–3,000.[45] There are between 40,000 and 70,000 Christian Armenian citizens of Turkey.[16]

The largest Christian population in Turkey is in Istanbul, which has a large community of Armenians and Greeks. Istanbul is also where the Patriarchate of Greek Orthodox Christianity is located. Antioch, located in Turkey's Hatay province, is the original seat of the namesake Antiochian Orthodox Church, but is now the titular see. The area, known for having ethnic diversity and large Christian community, has 7,000 Christians and 14 active churches. The city has one of the oldest churches in the world as well, called the Church of St Peter, which is said to have been founded by the Saint himself.[68]

Tur Abdin is a large area with a multitude of mostly Syriac Orthodox churches, monasteries and ruins. Settlements in Tur Abdin include Midyat. The Christian community in Midyat is supplemented by a refugee community from Syria and has four operating churches.[69] Some of the most significant Syriac churches and monasteries in existence are in or near Midyat including Mor Gabriel Monastery and the Saffron Monastery.

The Syriac Orthodox Church has a strong presence in Mardin. Many Syriacs left during the genocides in 1915.[70]

By some estimates, in the early 2000s there were between 10,000 and 20,000 Catholics and Protestants in Turkey.[71]

Churches in Turkey[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.[72]

Autocephalous Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate[edit]

The Autocephalous Turkish Orthodox Patriarchate (Turkish: Bağımsız Türk Ortodoks Patrikhanesi), also referred to as the Turkish Orthodox Church is unrecognized Orthodox Christian denomination.

Armenian Apostolic Church[edit]

Armenian church in Vakifli, Turkey

The Armenian Apostolic Church traces its origins to St. Gregory the Illuminator who is credited with having introduced the Armenian king Tiridates III to Christianity. It is one of the most ancient churches. Historically, the Armenian Church accepted only the first three Ecumenical Councils, rejecting the Council of Chalcedon in 451; its Christology is sometimes described as "non-Chalcedonian" for this reason. The Bible was first translated into the Armenian language by St. Mashtos.[73][71]

Turkey's Armenian Christian community is led by the Armenian Patriarchates of Istanbul and Jerusalem. As of 2008 estimates of Turkey's Armenian Orthodox population range from between 50,000 and 70,000.[71]

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. In Mardin one remains as a Museum and occasional religious center.
  • Armenian Evangelical Church- The Armenian Protestants have three churches in Istanbul from the 19th century.[74]

Greek Orthodox Church[edit]

Pammakaristos Church, also known as the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos (Greek: Θεοτόκος ἡ Παμμακάριστος, "All-Blessed Mother of God"), is one of the most famous Greek Orthodox Byzantine churches in Istanbul
Chora Church medieval Byzantine Greek Orthodox church preserved as the Chora Museum in the Edirnekapı neighborhood of Istanbul

Constantinople became established in the ecclesiastical hierarchy at the Council of Constantinople in 381. The legendary origins of the Patriarchate of Constantinople go back to St. Andrew, Metrophanes and Alexander of Constantinople. Constantinople's primacy over the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch was reaffirmed at the Council of Chalcedon in 481, after which the papacy in Rome supported Constantinople in its dispute with Alexandria over monophysitism. Later, when Rome sought to assert its primacy over Byzantium, the Eastern Orthodox church developed the doctrine of pentarchy as a response.[75]

During the 8th and 9th centuries, Byzantium was embroiled in the Iconoclastic persecution.[76] The Photian schism was also 9th century power struggle for the Patriarchate between Ignatios, backed by Pope Nicholas I, and Photios I of Constantinople.[77][78]

The Byzantine rite is similar to mass in the Catholic Church and the Divine Office (cycle of eight non-Mass services in the Catholic faith).[79] In addition to the Hours of the Office, the Byzantine rite is used for sacraments (including marriage and baptism), ordination, funerals, blessings and other occasions.[80] The three divine liturgies of the Byzantine rite are John Chrysostom’s, Basil’s, and the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.[80]

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.

Catholic Church[edit]

Catholic Church in Turkey is represented by jurisdictions of western and eastern rites. Though the Armenian Apostolic Church was no longer in union with Rome and Byzantium after the Council of Chalcedon, a number of Armenians have converted to Catholicism over the years. After the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II extended formal recognition to Catholics, an Armenian Catholic Patriarchate was established in Constantinople.[81][82]

Evangelical churches[edit]

Crimea Memorial Church is a Church of England, Turkey

The Armenian Evangelical Church was founded in 1846, after Patriarch Matteos Chouhajian excommunicated members of the "Pietisical Union" who had started to raise questions about possible conflicts between scripture and Church traditions.[81] The new church was recognized by the Ottoman government in 1850 after encouragement from the British Ambassador Henry Wellesley Cowley.[83] There were reportedly 15 Turkish converts in Constantinople in 1864. One church minister said "We wanted the Turks first to become Armenian". Hagop A. Chakmakjian commented that "the implication was that to be Christian meant to be identified with the Armenian people".[84]

Syriac Orthodox Church[edit]

Mor Hananyo Monastery, Patriarchal Vicarate of Mardin near Mardin, Turkey. After the Romans withdrew from the fortress, Mor Shlemon transformed it into a monastery in 493 AD

Syriac Orthodox Church, that followes the West Syriac Rite, was present in various southeastern regions of modern Turkey since the early medieval times. Since the 12th century, the patriarchal seat itself was transferred to Mor Hananyo Monastery (Deir al-Za`faran), in southeastern Anatolia near Mardin (modern Turkey), where it remained until 1924. In modern times, active churches are located in Istanbul, Diyarbakir, Adiyaman, and Elazig.[85] 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 Kurdish-Turkish conflict (1978-present). The Church structure is still organized however, with 12 reverends stationed in churches and monasteries there.[86] Churches were also in several other provinces as well, but during the Seyfo the churches in those churches were destroyed or left ruined.

In modern times, Syriac Orthodox Church hase these provinces in Turkey:[87]

  • Patriarchal Vicariate of Istanbul and Ankara under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop Filüksinos Yusuf Çetin.
  • Patriarchal Vicariate of Mardin under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop Filüksinos Saliba Özmen.
  • Patriarchal Vicariate of Turabdin under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop Timotheus Samuel Aktaş.
  • Archbishopric of Adiyaman under the spiritual guidance and direction of Archbishop Gregorius Melki Ürek.

Church of the East[edit]

Historical Church of the East, that followed the East Syriac Rite, was present in various southeastern regions of modern Turkey throughout medieval and early modern times, and the continuation of that presence is embodied in the modern Assyrian Church of the East, and the Ancient Church of the East. Ecclesiastical structure of East Syriac Christianity in the region was almost completely wiped out in the Assyrian genocide. Originally, one of its main centers was in the region of Hakkari, in the wilage of Qodchanis, that was the seat of Shimun-line patriarchs from the 17th century up to the advent of modern times. Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV of the Assyrian Church of the East visited Turkey in 2012.[88]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[edit]

Recognizing that present-day Ephesus of the New Testament endowed Turkey with historical importance, early leaders of the LDS Church preached in Turkey in 1850, and — with the help of British LDS soldiers — organized a congregation in Istanbul in 1854.[89] In 1979, another LDS community was organized in Ankara.[90]

Other denominations[edit]

The Armenian Protestants own three Istanbul churches from the 19th century.[91] There is an Alliance of Protestant Churches in Turkey.[92]

There are churches for foreigners in compounds and resorts, although they are not counted in lists of churches as they are used only by tourists and expatriots.

List of church buildings in Turkey[edit]

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
Armenian church in Vakıflı
Vakıflıköy Ermeni Kilisesi
Vakifli church-DCP 8791 25p.jpg active
St. John The Evangelist Armenian Church (Gedikpaşa, Istanbul)
Surp Hovhannes Ermeni Kilisesi
active
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
services held once or twice a year
St. Gregory The Enligtener Armenian Church (Kırıkhan, Hatay)
Surp Krikor Lusavoriç Kilisesi
active
Cathedral of Kars Kars Church Of The Apostles 2009.JPG converted into a mosque
Narekavank Narekavank.jpg destroyed, mosque built on the site
St. Giragos Armenian Church (Diyarbakır)
Surp Giragos Ermeni Kilisesi
Սուրբ Կիրակոս եկեղեցի (Դիարբեքիր) (3).JPG closed – confiscated by the Turkish State
Ktuts monastery Ktuts monastery 1986.jpg abandoned
Cathedral of Ani The Cathedral of Ani.jpg abandoned following 1319 earthquake
St. George (Sourp Kevork) Armenian Church (Samatya, Istanbul) unknown
St. John the Baptist Armenian Church (Uskudar) unknown
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 ruins
Khtzkonk Monastery ruins
Varagavank Varagavank.PNG ruins, protected
Saint Bartholomew Monastery Saint Bartholomew Armenian Monastery.JPG ruins
Saint Karapet Monastery Saint Karapet Monastery 001.jpg destroyed, village built on the site
St. Marineh Church, Mush ruins
St. Stepanos Church SAINT STEPHEN ETIENNE ARMENIAN CHURCH SMYRNA Postcard c. 1907.JPG destroyed
Tekor Basilica Tekor Basilica in an 1840s engraving.jpg destroyed

Churches of the Byzantine and Greek Orthodox rite[edit]

Church name Picture Status
Church of St. George, Istanbul Stgeorgeistanbul3.JPG active
Church of St. Mary of Blachernae (Istanbul) SaintMaryOfBlachernae20072612 01.jpg active
Church of St. Mary of the Mongols StMaryOfTheMongols20071010 01.jpg active
İskenderun St. Nicholas Church[93] Iskenderun church.jpg active
Mersin Orthodox Church Mersin Orthodox Church.jpg active
Church of St. Kyriaki, Istanbul St Kyriaki Church - P1040034.JPG active
Meryem Ana Church Patriarcadotur.JPG active
Bulgarian St. Stephen Church İstanbul 6019.jpg active
St. Demetrius Church in Feriköy, Istanbul active
Saint Andrew in Krisei KocaMustafaPashaMosque20072812 03.jpg converted into a mosque
Chora Church Chora Church Constantinople 2007 panorama 002.jpg converted into a mosque
Church of Christ Pantokrator (Constantinople) Image-ZeyrekCamii20061230 02.jpg converted into a mosque
Church of Christ Pantepoptes (Constantinople) EskiImaretMosque2007.jpg converted into a mosque
Monastery of Gastria SancaktarMosque20080603 01.jpg converted into a mosque
Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia exterior 2007 002.jpg converted into a mosque
Church of the Holy Apostles demolished, Fatih Mosque built 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 to be converted into a mosque
Church of Saint John the Baptist en to Trullo (Constantinople) HiramiAmhetPasaMosque20071010 01.jpg converted into a mosque
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 Pammakaristos Church - exterior - P1030461.JPG converted into a mosque
Church of Sergius and Bacchus LittleHagiaSofia20061231.jpg converted into a mosque
Saint Irene church ArapMosque1.JPG converted into a mosque
Church of Vefa Molla Gürani Camii South View.jpg converted into a mosque
Holy Martyrs Menodora, Metrodora, and Nymphodora Manastir Mosque 2010-10-09 01.jpg converted into a mosque
Saint Mary of Constantinople Odalar1920 1.jpg converted into a mosque
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 Saint Thomas Great Mosque, Diyarbakir.jpg converted into a mosque
Church of the Theotokos Kyriotissa (Constantinople) KalenderhaneMosqueInIstanbul20070407 01.jpg converted into a mosque
Nakip Mosque converted into a mosque
Hagios Eugenios Church Hagios Eugenios Trabzon.JPG converted into a mosque
Panagia Chrysokephalos Church Khrysokephalos.jpg converted into a mosque
Virgin Mary Church Antalya - Kesik Minare 1.jpg converted into a mosque
Hagia Sophia, Trabzon Ayasofyatrabzon.jpg converted into a mosque
Hagia Sophia, İznik Hagia Sophia Iznik.JPG converted into a mosque
Church of Christ and Saint Stephen Fatih Cami.JPG converted into a mosque
Toklu Dede Mosque converted into a mosque (before was a church of unknown dedication)
Alâeddin Mosque Alaedin Camii.JPG converted into a mosque (before was a basilica of unknown dedication)
Saint Paul Cathedral Tarsus Old Mosque.jpg converted into a mosque
Hagia Irene Hagia Eirene Constantinople July 2007 002.jpg museum
Sümela Monastery Sumela From Across Valley.JPG museum
Virgin Mary Monastery museum
House of the Virgin Mary House of the Virgin Mary.jpg museum
Church of St Nicholas of Myra(Santa Claus) (Demre) Nikolauskirche Myra88.jpg ruins,museum
Taşbaşı Church, Ordu province Ordu taşbaşı kilisesi.jpg museum
Saint John's Church, Gülşehir museum
Saint Michael Church in Akçaabat now used for social and cultural activities and museum by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, built in 1332[94]
Kuruköprü Monumental Church Kuruköprü Church, front view.JPG museum
Saint Paul's Church, Tarsus Tarsus Saint Paul's Church.jpg museum
Church of St. Polyeuctus Church of Polyeuktos 4935.jpg archaeological site
35 churches and chapels in caves at the Ayazini archaeological site[95]
Selime Cathedral at the Ihlara Valley in Cappadocia archaeological site[96]
Virgin Mary Church at the Ihlara Valley in Cappadocia archaeological site[97]
Saint George Church at Diyarbakır built around 200 AD, now an art gallery[98]
Church of St. John, Tirilye transferred to private property after the Greek population left during in 1923 and now is a residence
St. Basil's Church, Tirilye became a Stone School (being used for the workshops for carpentry and iron works) and the “Dündar House" (used as a mess house)
Palace of Antiochos ruins
Church of the Virgin of the Pharos ruins
Kuştul Monastery Kustul Monastery Trabzon.jpg ruins
Bodrum Aya Nikola Church[TR] Aya Nikola Kilisesi BODRUM - panoramio(cropped).jpg ruins
Jason Church Yasun.jpg ruins
Saint Anne Church, Trabzon Hagia Anna2.JPG ruins
Saint Gregory of Nyssa Church, Trabzon Trabzon Saint Gregory of Nyssa Cathedral (destroyed 1930).jpg destroyed
Meryem Ana Monastery ruins
Vazelon Monastery Kloster Vazelon Hauptgebaeude Juli 2014.jpg ruins
Panagia Theoskepastos Monastery, Trabzon Trabzon Kizlar Monastery 4845.jpg ruins
Sinope Koimesis Church Balatlarchurch.JPG ruins
Göreği Monastery, Fatsa district ruins
Pavrezi Chapel, Gümüşhane[99] ruins
Hagios Georgios Monastery, Gümüşhane[99] ruins
Çakırkaya Monastery, Gümüşhane[99] ruins undergoing restoration[100]
Panagia Monastery, Gümüşhane[99] ruins
Seven or more ruined churches in Santa[101] ruins
Church within Kaymakli/Anakou Underground City ruins
Hagia Triada Church, Ayvalık ruins
Kamışlı Kilisesi/Çakrak Church, Alucra district ruins
Üçayak Byzantine Church Ütschajak (1900).jpg ruins
Hasanaliler Church Hasanaliler Church.jpg ruins
Üzümlü Church abandoned
Saint Demetrius Monastery on Cunda Island ruins, built in 1766 destroyed by treasure hunters in 2020[102]
Saint Georgios Church in Nilüfer, Bursa ruins, built in 1896 and fell down in 2020, because it was neglected[103]
Hutura Hagios Monastery Church in Gümüşhane ruins, built in the 14th century, it is often plundered by treasure hunters. The library of the monastery is also destroyed.[104]
Kızıl Kilise Kızıl Kilise.jpg ruins

Catholic churches[edit]

Church name Picture Status
Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Istanbul 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
Church of St. Anthony, Mersin Sent Antuan Katolik Kilisesi, Mersin (2).jpg active
St. John's Cathedral, Izmir St. John's Cathedral (RC), Izmir.JPG active
Church of SS Peter and Paul, Istanbul İstanbul - Sen Piyer Kilisesi Karaköy - Mart 2013.JPG active
Church of Saint Benoit, Istanbul Saint Benoit Istanbul 01.jpg active
Church of St. Mary Draperis, Istanbul St Maria Draperis 1096.jpg active
Saint Paul Church, Adana Adana Saint Paul Catholic Church.jpg active
St. Mary's Church, İzmir St. Maria kilisesi dış cephe.jpg active
St. Térèse Church, Ankara St. Térèse Kilisesi 08.jpg active
St. George's Catholic Church St. Georgs-Kolleg 1900.jpg active[105]
Notre-Dame de L’Assomption, İstanbul Notre Dame de l'Assomption Istanbul 05 08 2016.jpg active
Church of San Domenico (Constantinople) ArapMosque1.JPG converted into a mosque
Church of St Peter Antioch Saint Pierre Church Front.JPG museum

[106]

Churches of the Georgian rite[edit]

Turkey's historical Georgian churches are located in the northeast of the country.
Church name Picture Status
Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Istanbul (Bomonti Gürcü Katolik Kilisesi) Notre Dame de Lourdes Georgian Church in Constantinople.jpg active
Khakhuli Monastery (Haho/Bağbaşı) Khakhuli1.jpg converted into a mosque
Doliskana (Dolishane/Hamamlıköy) DOLISKANA2.jpg converted into a mosque
Ishkhani (İşhan) 171. ishxani. gumbaTis yeli.jpg protected

(since 1987)[107]

Parkhali (Barhal/Altıparmak) Пархали, Тао, Турция. Май 2008.jpg protected[108]
Otkhta Eklesia (Dörtkilise) Otkhta church.jpg abandoned
Oshki (Öşki Manastırı/Öşk Vank/Çamlıyamaç) Oshki1.jpg abandoned
Khandzta Khandzta (3).JPG ruins
Ekeki Ekeki (ექექი).jpg ruins
Parekhi Parekhi2.jpg ruins
Makriali St. George church, Kemalpaşa, Artvin Makriali St. George Georgian Church, Hopa dist., Lazistan - მაკრიალის წმ. გიორგი, ოხვამე.JPG ruins
St. Barlaam Monastery (Barlaham Manastırı), Yayladağı St. Barlaam Georgian Monastery of Antioch, Yayladağı, Hatay.jpg ruins
Ancha monastery Ança.jpg ruins
Okhvame, Ardeşen Ruins of Georgian church in Ardeşen, Rize, Lazistan.jpg ruins
Tskarostavi monastery Tzqarostavi Tskarostavi წყაროსთავი.jpg ruins
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
Opiza Opiza2011.jpg ruins

Protestant churches[edit]

Anglican churches[edit]

Church name Picture Status
Christ Church, Istanbul Crimea Memorial Church (Kırım Kilisesi) Beyoğlu, İstanbul - Mart 2013.JPG active
St. John the Evangelist's Anglican Church, Izmir StJohntheEvangelistIzmir.jpg active

Other[edit]

Church name Picture Status
Buca Protestant Baptist Church[TR] Buca Protestant Baptist Church.jpg active
Kreuzkirche, İstanbul[DE] Deutsche Evangelische Kirche (Alman Kilisesi), Istanbul (1).JPG active
Samsun Protestant Church Samsun Protestan Kilisesi - Yeni Bina.jpg active
Church of the Resurrection, İzmir Resurrection Church in İzmir, Turkey.jpg active
All Saints' Church, Moda Allsaintsmoda front 05 08 2016.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
Mor Yuhanna Monastery in Eğil museum[109]
Zuqnin Monastery

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

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