First Orthodox church to be built in Turkey since 1923

Municipal authorities in Istanbul have approved plans for the construction of a Christian Orthodox church in the city almost a century after the last Orthodox church was constructed in Turkey.

Bülent Kerimoğlu, the mayor of Istanbul’s Bakırköy district, has approved the project after a meeting with the Syriac Orthodox metropolitan on Wednesday, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported.

The church, which Kerimoğlu said would be completed in two years, will accommodate up to 700 worshippers once built in the Yeşilköy area on Istanbul’s European side.

Istanbul during Ottoman times was home to a diverse range of religious communities, though many were forced to leave in population exchanges after the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

The seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church was established in Constantinople in the classical period, and has remained in the city throughout the Ottoman Period and still stands in Istanbul today despite the dwindling numbers of Turkey’s Orthodox community.

Turkey’s Syriac community, which numbers around 10,000, now lives mostly in Istanbul, though historically it was concentrated in Mardin province in Turkey’s south-east.