There have been no religious services in the Istanbul Armenian Surp Vortvots Vorodman Church (Children of Thunder) for the past 100 years. But the doors to the church will finally open this July.
Deacon Vagharshak told me that the site hadn’t been used as a church since World War I. “The community has been dreaming about renovating the church and in 1987 plans were drafted but the amounts needed were staggering. It remained a dream.”
Today, renovations on the church are in full swing. After renovations are complete, the church, with its original style intact, will also serve as a cultural center.
This building was built upon the edict dated February 2, 1828 granted Mahmud II to Kazaz Artin (Harutyun Amira Bezdjiyan); and its plans were drawn by royal architect Kirkor Amira Balyan and M.Devlet Garabet. The compound is comprised of a cathedral (Mother Mary) and two chapels (Surp Khach and Surp Vortvots Vorodman) and opened for services on October 14, 1828.
The transformation project in this monumental building is targeted to constitute an example for other churches.
Kevork Karakeuzian, who directs the renovation project, says the cost is 2.7 million Turkish Liras of which 70% has been allocated by the Turkish government. The balance is being contributed by the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate.
The entire project was a part of the renovations in the city related to the Istanbul’s run as a 2010 European Capital of Culture. A total of 610 projects were completed with a total budget of 300 million Turkish Liras.
“What’s really important is that this is the first time that the government has allocated such a large sum for the renovation of a church,” says Karakeuzian.
Allaying concerns that the renovated structure would be used solely as a cultural center, Mr. Karakeuzian said that religious services could be held and that there would be a place to light candles.