Published: 2019-01-10 16:09
Last Updated: 2019-01-10 16:25
Turkey is building the first ever church since its foundation as a modern republic on October 29, 1923.
It is expected to take two years to build the church, with its construction set to commence in Istanbul at the end of February, Bulent Kerimoglu, the mayor of Istanbul’s Bakirkoy municipality, told the press, while meeting with Yusuf Cetin, the Syriac Orthodox Church’s metropolitan for Istanbul and the capital Ankara.
Kerimoglu noted that once the church is up and running, it will serve around 17,000 Syriac Orthodox believers.
Meanwhile, Cetin said he was proud of Turkey’s religious tolerance.
“Despite different religions, ethnic roots … everyone’s hearts beat for our Turkey. We’re proud of living under the Turkish flag in this land,” he said.
The decision to build the new church was first given the green light in 2015 by then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Istanbul currently has just one Syriac Orthodox church, the Virgin Mary Syriac (Assyrian) Orthodox Church, located in Istanbul’s Beyoglu district, away from where most Assyrians live.
The new church, which hopes to accommodate up to 700 worshippers, will be located near Istanbul Ataturk Airport in the Yesilkoy neighborhood in Bakirkoy, where many Assyrians reside.
Planners are also looking into building a car park and cafe as part of the church complex.
Around 25,000 Assyrians currently live in Turkey, with the majority of them residing in Istanbul. They are an ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient northern Mesopotamia.