Surp Yerotutyun Church
Before we departed Eskişehir and hit the road back to Ankara, we checked if we could find any historically significant places on Google Maps. Surprisingly, we stumbled upon a huge Armenian Church (Surp Yerotutyun Church) in the province of Sivrihisar and were marveled by it’s beauty upon visiting.
Surp Yerotutyun Church (Armenian: Սուրբ Երրորդություն եկեղեցի), was built in 1650 in the old Armenian neighborhood in Sivrihisar. It is among the finest examples of stonemasonry churches in Anatolia and one of the 3 largest churches in Turkey.
The church abuts the Park of Historical Figures where there are many statues of prominent people from Turkish history. Also, the historical clock tower of Sivrihisar is on the east side of the church.
The church was heavily damaged due to a fire in 1876. However, in 1881 is was rebuilt by the Armenian architect, Mintes Panayot, in Sivrihisar.
According to statistics, back in 1850’s the population of the Ottoman Armenians was 4177 people, or 360 households. After World War I, almost all Armenian families of Sivrihisar immigrated to Syria and France.
The church was restored in 2010. Unfortunetely, except for a few cross carvings, abraded Armenian texts and biblical frescoes, almost nothing survived. Currently, it is empty inside the church and there is no active religious complex as there are no Armenians in Sivrihisar anymore.
History of Armenians in Sivrihisar
According to the research thesis, “Armenians in Eskişehir and Armenian Relocation”, written by Ahmet Suat Alkaya, the first recorded person to mention the Armenians of Sivrihisar was the French traveler, Paul Lucas. He visited an Armenian village close to Sivrihisar in 1705.
The first concrete information about the Armenian population in Sivrihisar was recorded by the Scottish officer, John Macdonald Kinneir, of the East India Company in the 19th century. According to Kinneir, 1500 people lived in Sivrihisar, 400 of whom were Armenians.
Again, in the 19th century, the French archeologist, Georges Perrot visited Sivrihisar. He talked to the Armenians there and visited an Armenian school.
In 1882, German archeologists, Carl Humann and Otto Puchstein, gave the census of Sivrihisar as 2000 Turkish households and 800 Armenian households.
In subsequent years, the Ottoman Albanian author, Şemseddin Sami, visited Sivrihisar and stated that the population of Sivrihisar was 34,902 people, 4000 of whom were Armenians. With the new rail road that was built in Eskişehir in the beginning of the 20th century, Sivrihisar witnessed a sharp rise in its population.
After the Armenian population left Sivrihisar permanently, the church had been in a neglected state for decades. Only since the restoration in 2010, Surp Yerotutyun Church has been receiving some visitors.