1,800-year-old Orthodox church in Turkey set to open for weddings

MUĞLA – Anadolu Agency – 31/8/13

The Aegean town of Marmaris’ Kameriye Island is expected to become a ‘marriage center’ for tourists when a project prepared for the restoration of a 1,800-year-old Orthodox Church is completed.

Project works are about to come to an end in a 1,800-year-old Orthodox church, located on Kameriye Island in the Aegean town of Marmaris and considered as the second home of the Virgin Mary in Turkey, which is set to open to tourism.

The Marmaris Trade Center (MTO) initiated a project in 2010 to restore the church and open it for faith and marriage tourism. The project titled “Five Pieces of Gold,” was approved by the Provincial Special Administration last February. The restitution and restoration projects of the church were also approved by the Muğla Cultural and Heritage Preservation Board.

MTO Chairman Mehmet Baysal said that the restoration works of the project were set to start soon. He said that a team including experts of the Provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate and Muğla Council of Monuments made observations about the history, architectural structure of Kameriye Island and gathered information about similar churches to create a database for the restoration project.

Tender for project

Baysal said that the budget problem of the project was also solved, adding “In accordance with the law, the Provincial Assembly cannot provide a budget for chambers. Since the island is within the borders of Bozburun district, the budget was allocated for the municipality and they will make a tender for the project.”

He said that the Kameriye Church Restoration Project made a tremendous impact in Turkey and abroad, and experts agreed the idea that the island would become Turkey’s second Virgin Mary. Baysal said that statistical works showed that faith and cultural tourists brought more income than those who came for sea and sun tourism.

“There are three similar churches in the region. We plan to make projects for their restoration, too. This project is very important to diversify tourism. We believe that the island will be a faith and marriage tourism center in the region. We estimate that hundreds of couples will get married in this church through special tours organizations that we will organize,” Baysal said.

The Kameriye Church, which is reached by a 20-minute boat trip from Bozburun, is being visited by lots of tourists in the summer months, particularly Orthodox tourists. Some tourists, who join daily boat tours, take a break on the island and light candles in a chapel named “Ruined Church.” Also, some tourists make a wish by tying pieces of cloth to the tree in front of the church.

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