ISTANBUL (PanArmenian.net) – An exciting new project to protect Turkey’s non-Muslim architectural heritage is bringing together volunteers from Turkey, Greece and Armenia, Anadolu Agency reports. Well over a hundred at-risk churches, schools, monasteries and synagogues will be logged and catalogued by experts from the three nations.
The project is being organized by the Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, as well as Anadolu Culture – two initiatives that support different communities in Turkey. Architects, art historians and engineers have come together to review Turkey’s Greek, Armenian and Jewish heritage.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, project coordinator Cagla Parlak said that they aimed to reach an estimated 140 structures across Turkey, currently at risk. There are only a couple of people who could be called experts on Armenian art history, she said, pointing to a lack of expertise on art history surrounding restoration projects in Turkey. The group will document findings from their visits to sites in seven regions across Turkey, including the province of Kayseri, the southern region of Adana and Aegean Izmir.
Financed by the U.S. embassy in Ankara, the project took a year to come together and ran parallel with the foundation of the association in 2014. The project has revealed its first results by publishing a book called “Kayseri: With Its Armenian and Greek Cultural Heritage” in February.
The Armenian population in the city was around 15,000 in late 19th century, the book states. Today only one Armenian lives there, according to local media.
The group uses an inventory prepared by the Istanbul-based Hrant Dink Foundation, registration decisions by local heritage Protection Boards and literature reviews, Parlak said. The foundation worked for more than two years making an inventory to gather information about Turkey’s cultural heritage. It found out about more than 10,000 monuments across Turkey. According to the research, there are 4,600 Armenian, 4,100 Greek, 650 Assyrian and 300 Jewish structures across the country.