Dogruyol Village Church: Armenian Heritage in an Azeri Village

On the edge of Turkey in Kars Province, there is an Azeri man protecting an ancient Armenian church in Dogruyol Village.

What you’ll find in this article

  • Dogruyol Village
  • Video about the Azeri man who guards the church
  • About the church
  • What Atanur told us
  • What you need to know before your visit
  • Where is the church on Google Maps?

Dogruyol Village

In the northern part of Kars Province around Lake Çıldır, there are many villages that are inhabited by the Terekeme people (also known as Karapapaks), a group of indigenous Azerbaijani people. Dogruyol Village is one of these settlements. This village is located right at the spot where the Turkish, Georgian and Armenian borders meet.

The old name of the village is “Cala” (ჭალა in Georgian), however I could not find any sources about who lived in this village in previous centuries. The only information I ran into was from Sevan Nişanyan’s “Index Anatolicus“, which is the largest gazetteer (geographical dictionary) of the settlements in Turkey. It states that in the early 20th century, Doğruyol was a Terekeme/Karapapak (Azeri) dominant settlement, but nothing else about the past of the village.

During my visit to Dogruyol, I met an Azeri man named Atanur, who is a resident of the villlage and protects the old Armenian church in the village. He was an open-minded local who showed me the church and the old mosque that was built adjacent to the church.

About the church

There are not many sources about this historic church. The information we do have is not 100% certain.

Although there are some debates about the origin of the church being Georgian or Armenian, Atanur told us this is an Armenian church. Moreover, several other sources in English regard this church to be an Armenian religious complex. However, most of the sources in Turkish regard this church to be Georgian. It is most likely that throughout the centuries, both Armenians and Georgians used the church.

Me and Atanur

What Atanur told us

During our visit Atanur shared a great volume of insight into the church and mosque. What he told me matches historic accounts: the church was built in the 10th century.

The mosque abutting church was constructed 100-120 years ago. This Islamic religious complex contains a very colorful interior design. However with the new mosque built in the village, this old mosque is not in use.

Inside the mosque

Although there is not much left of the interior of the church, the main structure is still standing strongly. As Atanur shared, the base of the structure goes very deep in the ground which is the prime reason behind its well-preserved state.

“Many tourists come here. Most of them are Armenians. We also had visitors from England and USA” said Atanur.

Some parts of the walls still contains plaster, which can be seen as proof that, once, this church was covered with frescoes and religious wall paintings.

What you need to know before your visit

The church is kept locked due to the threat of treasure hunters. Therefore, you have to find Atanur in the village. For privacy reasons, I can not share his phone number, so you have to ask for him once you are at the village. Generally when the villagers who have the keys to these structures leave the village temporarily, they leave the key to someone else. Even if Atanur is not in the village, someone else will have the key.

Try to visit the village during day time. There is a local market with water and a wide range of snacks in the village.

In case you want to call the village in advance, this is the phone number of the village chief, as shown on Google Maps: +905365186459. Don’t expect them to speak English.

There is no entrance fee to the church. However still you can leave about 20 Turkish liras as a gesture of gratitude.

Where is the church?

The location of the church on Google Maps is shown below. If the widget doesn’t display, click here to see the location.

Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

I am a Turkish guy who makes travel videos and explores the world. I also love Metallica.

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