When the Muslim Turks from Central Asia settled in Anatolia, they built stately mosques with their elegant interior decorations, their imposing domes and minarets that proclaim their Islamic beliefs that God is One. Each and every one is a magnificent work of art. At the same time, the Turks have cared for the places of worship that belonged to the people who were resident in Anatolia before them. They have continued to respect the religious beliefs and practices of people of differing faiths.
Religious feeling is a natural human impulse. People express their beliefs and their religious feelings by way of their worship. The places of worship are the places where beliefs and worship are performed freely and without stress. Protecting the temples is as important as building them. In this regard the Holy Koran says, "The monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques where the name of God is often invoked and recited must be protected and not destroyed." (Hac 22:40).
Therefore in observance of this, the places of worship for people of differing faiths in Anatolia are open, often next to each other. Respect for human rights involves respect for the faith, religious practices and the holy places of all people.
Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz
Head of Religious Affairs
September 1, 1997
The roots of the Christian Church
are in Palestine and Anatolia. Three of the most ancient branches of the
worldwide Church of Christ, namely the Armenian, Syrian and Greek Orthodox
churches, are essentially Anatolian in character. Although the Imperial
Church of Byzantium has been well studied, most of the manuscripts of the
Eastern and Southern Anatolian churches remain unpublished in local or
foreign languages. We welcome the publication of Turkey's Religious Sites
and recommend it to all who would like to survey the pagan, Jewish, Christian
and Moslem religious sites in our country at the threshold of the Second
Millenium. A book of this scope would naturally avoid details, however,
we are sure that the reader will be led by Ms. Anna G. Edmonds' skilled
treatment of the subject to a deeper inquiry of the Anatolian civilizations.
As the three major monotheistic religions get ready to celebrate the traditional birthyear of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, in the year 2000, the Armenian Church of Turkey prepares to mark in the year 2001 the 1700th anniversary of the official acceptance of Apostolic Christianity by the Armenians in Anatolia, as a consequence of the tireless efforts of Saint Gregory the Illuminator of Caesarea Cappadocia (301 AD). This publication is an invaluable tool for all who prepare for those major festivities. We know that the reader will greatly profit from this book also in order to gain an understanding of the dialogue of life which exists in our country between the adherents of different religions. We count it our blessing and privilege to live in this beautiful land of culture and religion, prayer and feasts, music and art... And it will be our joy to share it with all visitors of good will.
Welcome to Turkey !
Archbishop of the Princes' Island & Head of the Religious Council Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul
September 16, 1997