A recently restored 13th-century church has become a focal point for ethnic Armenians seeking to rediscover their cultural identity in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast.
St. Giragos Armenian Apostolic church is located in the back streets of the Sur quarter in Diyarbakır, one of southeastern Turkey’s largest cities. It was derelict and abandoned until restored to its full splendor two years ago, and now serves as a testament to the once large and wealthy ethnic Armenian community that for centuries lived in the city.
“It means everything to me. It is our history, it is our culture and it is our legacy,” proudly declared 60-year-old church caretaker Armen Demircian. “It’s the gift of our ancestors to us. As an Armenian, I can see myself here.”
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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.