Armenian Church in Turkey can’t receive EU prize because of curfew in Sur

Surp Giragos Church won 2015 European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award for its restoration, but cannot receive it because of the curfew in Sur. The ceremony will be held in Istanbul on May 5, Agos reports. 

Left to its own fate for years, Surp Giragos Church was finally restored by the great efforts of Armenian community and opened to worship in 2011. The restoration is granted with 2015 Europa Nostra, which is the most prestigious restoration award in Europe. There were 263 applicants and 28 projects won the prize in different categories. From Turkey, Surp Giragos Armenian Church in Diyarbakir was granted with the prize.

The ceremony will be held in Istanbul

A prize ceremony was planned to be held in the church, where the prize plaquet will be nailed to the wall of the church. However, since it is forbidden to enter the province, the ceremony will be held in Istanbul.

The ceremony will be held in the Patriarchate in Istanbul. Europa Nostra Turkey Representative Nuran Zeren Gülersoy, Archbishop Aram Ateşyan and Diyarbakir Surp Giragos Armenian Church Foundation Chair Ergun Ayık will attend the ceremony that will start at 17.00.

Assoc. Prof. Meral Halifeoğlu, who conducted the restoration project, will make a presentation about the restoration process.

European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage is given to structures and projects having cultural heritage status. There are four categories: conservation; research and digitization; dedicated service to heritage; and education, training and awareness-raising.

The reasons for granting the prize

The prize committee deemed the contribution of local government, local community and Armenian community worthy of prize: “The efforts to restore the main church of the Armenians in this place, after the exile of its people, is an outstanding act of reconciliation for the city and its citizens. The project developed as a result of extensive research into old documents for the re-erection of the lost elements, mainly the roof, the bell tower and interior furnishings. The involvement of the Armenian community themselves in the restoration of the monument has contributed immensely to the improvement of peace and social integration of its people, attracting also visiting Armenians from all over the world.”

Built in 17th century, Surp Giragos Church’s bell tower was demolished by cannonballs in 1914 and after 1915, it became deserted. The restoration started in 2010 and it was maintained by the contributions of Surp Giragos Church Foundation, NGOs and caring individuals. Then, thanks to the contribution and support of the local government, the project was developed and other buildings belonging to the church were also restored.

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