04 January 2007

1340) Armenians And Churches Of Kayseri In The 19th Century*

Şeyda Güngör AÇIKGÖZ
Erciyes University Faculty of Architecture / Kayseri

* This work is prepared according to the Ph.D. thesis titled “Churches of 19th Century In and Around Kayseri and Proposals for Preservation”. The thesis analyzes Roman and Armenian churches in the region, with plan, section, architectural façade surveys and preservation problems. Architectural details are not mentioned here to be appropriate for the symposium. . .

Kayseri (Caeserea) was an important city for Armenians because of religious reasons. Krikor Lusavoric (Saint Gregory the Illuminator), who was responsible for Christianity to be spread among the Armenians, was the Archbishop of Kayseri in the 4th century. While all the violence and restrictions of pagan Eastern Roman Empire were continuing, Kayseri, where Christianity began to spread, became the greatest religious center of Anatolia and the capital of all suburban churches in time1. Whereas, acceptance of Christianity by the Empire did not able to bring independence for having their own religious organizations to the Armenians. The reason for this was the limitation for all Christians in a city to only one religious administration by the Greek Orthodox Church. As for all Christian societies in Anatolia, Armenians, who were subject to Byzantium administration, used the same churches with the Greeks and worshipped in Greek. It was forbidden for a bishop from a different ethnic group to live and to hold ceremonies in a Greek speaking city2.

1 Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate, Church of Kayseri and Surp Krikor Lusaroviç,1986: 31
2 Ibid. 35


The Armenians’ situation changed after the Kadıköy (Chalcedon) Council in 451. Believing in “monophysitism”3 and objecting to decisions taken at the Council, Armenian beliefs were announced as deviant4. Consequent pressure and assaults caused them to preserve their identity and claim their own language, church and rites more than before.

Nevermore, the prohibitions were strong enough to prevent them from founding their own religious institutions and caused them to prefer Seljukian sultan Alparslan to conquer the city in 11th century, for their religious independency5. In this period that they articulated their religious organization, the Armenian Patriarchate was positioned in Tomarza and Kayseri and became the agency of the archbishop until being attached to the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate in the 17th century6.

Throughout history, Armenians have had to relocate because of the population policies of the states they were subject to. When State of Byzantium sent Armenians from the Caucasus region to the environs of Taurus Mountains in the 3rd century some of them settled in Kayseri.

According to the Movses of Horen, Armenian historian, “Mazaca,” that was the ancient name of the city in this period is an Armenian word.7 After centuries the conquest of Istanbul and Cyprus by Ottoman Empire has meant emigration to the new settlement areas for Armenians of Kayseri.8 A significant part of the Armenian population which existed for many centuries in Kayseri consisted of people who were sent here by force again. These were Armenians who were forced to leave when

3 Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Christ has only one nature (divine), as opposed to the position which holds that Christ has two natures, one divine and one human

4 Soykan, T. Non-Muslims in Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, Utopia Bookstore,Istanbul: 211

5 Kayseri and Surp Krikor Lusaroviç Church: 36
6 Damadyan, K. “Saint Instructive Grigor and Importance of Kayseri for Armenian Church”, 2001. International Anatolian Beliefs Congress Papers, 23-28 October 2000, Ankara: 189.

7 Kayseri and Surp Krikor Lusarovic Church, 1986: 31
8 Pamukciyan, K. Contribution to History by Armenian Resources- Times, Places,People, 2003. Aras Publishing, Istanbul: 165



Tabriz, Yerevan and Nakhichevan were conquered from the Ottomans by Shah Abbas in 16039.

Studies on Kayseri’s demographic structure render incoherent information for a number of reasons, such as the number of families, the counting of only males, and the assessment of the city center and environs together. According to population census dating 1892-1893, which is addressed by Guler who has studied this subject, the total population in the sanjak10 of Kayseri was 183,339, and 35,819 (19.53%) of it comprised Gregorian Armenians11. According to the Kayseri Armenian episcopacy records of 1897, the total population of Armenians was 14,760 with 2500 families. In this census predicated on the city center, there were 75 Catholic families and 175 Protestant families. With respect to the census done between 1905 and 1914 by commissions including non-Muslims in each village, county and province, 184,292 Muslims and 50,174 Armenians were living in Kayseri12. In spite of this, in the 1910 statistics published by the Patriarchate for the Sanjak of Kayseri, members of the Armenian Church in the city were 40,000. Additionally, in 31 religious dioceses in the city, there were 30 churches with 2000 Catholics and 2000 Protestant Armenians13.

In traditional Ottoman cities, generally every religious group lived in districts with their own places of worship. They had their own schools, hospitals and charity foundations. Mutual interactions occurred largely in public places like the market and the bazaar14. Nevertheless non-Muslims could live in Muslim districts if they could get legal permission. However, they were not allowed to settle near places such as a mosque, a tomb,

9 Ibid. 114
10 Sanjaks originally were the first level subdivisions of the Ottoman Empire.
11 Guler, A. “Demographic Situation in Kayseri”, 2000. Papers of 3rd History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri: 207
12 Tosun, R. “Armenian Cases in Kayseri”, Kayseri, 1997. Kaytam Publishing Vol. 2: 24.
13 Safrastyan, A. Lists and Declarations of Armenian Churches and Monasteries Presented by Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate to Turkish Justice and Denominations Administration, 1966.
14 Soykan, T.: 207


or a school15. With a contrasting version, According to Erdogru, they located in the same districts with Muslims in order to prevent them to form a political unity in the settlements they live16.

Administration of the districts, mostly adjacent to a mosque, church, synagogue, and school, was under the jurisdiction of an imam, rabbi or priest17. The administrative power of the religious men which was authorized by Sharia Law decreased with the reforms of Mahmud II, but there were not any changes in villages and districts where non-Muslims were living and priests or Christian country officials continued administration as before until the Province Directive in 186418.

It is seen that non-Muslims in Anatolian cities generally located between the inner castle and exterior columns of the city19. Eslempasa, Firuncu, Genlik, Batman, Dader, Emir Sultan, Harput, Karabet, Konaklar, Karaiçi, Köyyikan, Mürekebci, Puşegan, Sayaci, Sinikci, Suleyman, Tavukcu and Tutak among 75 districts in Kayseri in 19th century were Armenian20. Baldoktu, Bektas, Gurcu, Haci Kasım, Haci Mansur, Hasan Fakih, Hasinli, Hisayunlu, Kicikapi, Oduncu, Rumiyan, Selaldi, Sisliyan, Sultan, Sarkiyan, Tus and Varsak were the districts where Armenians lived with Greek and Turks21. Armenian residency in Kicikapi, Bahcebasi,

15 Ibid.151
16 Erdogru, M. A. “Non-Muslims in Kayseri in 16th and 17th Centuries”, 2000. Papers of 1st History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri, April 11-12, 1996:73
17 Ortaylı, İ. Ottoman Local Administration in Tanzimat Period, 2000. TTK Publishing, Ankara: 107.
18 Ibid.109
19 Karagöz, M. “Physical Appearance and The Situation Of The Districts of Kayseri Between 16th and 18th Centuries”, 1998. 2nd History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri: 257
20 Keskin, M. “Census Distribution in Kayseri and Ancillary Settling Areas According to Kayseri Curriculum Account dating 1247-1277 (1831-1860)”, 1998.Papers of 2nd History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri: 291-292.
21 Ibid. 291-292


Kazli and Boyacikapi22, and Siremenli, Seten and Bezren23 is mentioned in other sources.

In the 19th century, Armenians were living in 23 of 114 districts in 112 villages of the sanjak of Kayseri, Muslims and Armenians together in 5 of them; Muslims, Greeks and Armenians in 1 of them; and Greeks and Armenians in 15 of them24. The places where Armenians were living, apart from the city center, can be listed as: Talas, Tavlusun, Germir, Gesi, Erkilet, Darsiyak, Derevenk, Belagesi, Nirze, Bunyan, Mancısın, Muncusun, Comakli, Cucun, İncesu Village, Tomarza, Karacaoren, Yenice, Sogutlu, Gomedi, Tashan, Sazak, Ilibe, Cayiroluk, Yagdiburun, Musahacili25, Gergeme, Karacaoren, Develi, Pinarbasi, Tasci, İsbile, Kazligomedi, Mason, and Madazi.

The Armenians of Kayseri had been known as artisans, especially in goldsmithing, the leather trade and the rug business that won Marco Polo’s approval. This class was especially successful trading with Amsterdam and Vienna in the 17th century but tended to the Anatolian trade in the 19th century as a result of the decrease in international trade26. According to Simeon, as well as “rich tradesman and famous husbands” many poor people were living among the 500 Armenian dwellings in the city in the 17th century. They were generally working as tailors or making caftans27. According to Count De Cholet, who came to city in 1890, Armenians were very rich and dominated nearly all of the trade business, had good relationships with Turkish authorities and were closer to the Muslims than the Catholics28.

22 Kevorkian, R. and Paboudjian, P. B. Les Armeniens en Ottoman, 1992. Arthis Publishing, Paris: 219.
23 Svajian, S. A. A Trip Through Historic Armenia, 1983. Greenhill Publishing, NY: 55.
24 Keskin, M.: 290
25 Kevorkian, R. Paboudjian, P. B.: 220
26 Ibid. 220
27 Andreasyan, H. D. Simeon. Armenians in History 1608-1619, 1999. Civiyazilari, İstanbul: 254.
28 Eravşar, O. Kayseri in Travel Books, 2000. Chamber of Commerce Publishing, Kayseri: 214.


As for “language,” as an important sign of culture, most of the travelers witnessed that the Armenians in the city did not know their native language. Armenian was spoken in the villages Efkere, Gesi, Belagesi, Nize, Muncusun and Derevenk in the 18th century29. However, it must be said that compared to other villages, a mixed language with Turkish and Armenian was used even in Efkere which has a well-conserved traditions30.

The Armenians of Kayseri gave importance to education. The most well-known schools in the city were a high school for girls in Bahcebasi District built with donations of Armenians from Kayseri living in Istanbul, Hayguhiyan Institute built near Surp Asdvadzadzin Church in 1800, the School of Surp Hagop, Sarkis Gumusyan High School built next to Surp Krikor Church31, and a boarding and a day high school32. There were 12 Armenian schools, one college and the others were high schools, according to the records in the 1898 Yearbook of the Ministry of Education33. One of these high school belonged to Catholic Emmanuelian Institute and two of them belonged to the Protestant Church.

The social structure of the Armenians of Kayseri can be understood as well from the theatre group of Roupinian School in Develi, the periodical called Hektograf, published by Mesrobyan School, and the newspapers called Sepor (1910) and Nor Serunt (1912)34 published in the city. Studies on the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire requires to be considered on “missionaries”. It is without doubt that the missionaries created a bourgeoisie among the Christians in the Empire with new habits that they brought, whether or not their purpose was “to found a

29 Andreasyan, H. D.: 309
30 Varjabedian, J.< http://www. efkere.com >
31 Kevorkian, R. Paboudjiyan, P. B.: 21
32 Cayirdag, M. “ Buildings and Epigraphs of the Period of Sultan Abdulhamid II in Kayseri “, 2000. Papers of 1st History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri
33 Ozkan, S. “Minorities and Foreign Schools in Kayseri and Neighbourhood”, 1998. Papers of 2nd History Symposiun of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri: 60.
34 Kevorkian. Paboudjian.:220



highly civilized state”35or to “create an educated middle class” as commented by Ramsay 36. Kayseri, where Father Elnathan Grindley came in 182737, was one of the cities drawing missionaries’ attention. Amos and Caroline Fransworth sent by the American Board in 185238 founded the Kayseri station belonging to the Western Turkey Mission two years later.

Talas became a mission station in 187039. Everek, Mancusun, Comakli, Zincidere, Stefana, Rumdigin, Aziziye, Magharoglu, Mentese, Urnej, Gaziler, Cucun, Cepni, Efkere, Fenese, Incesu, Kayabasi and Kucukkoy acquired the advantages of the missions as substations40.

Requesting radical changes in the main principles of the State, namely the millet system, the Administrative Reforms (Tanzimat) changed the Armenian situation in the Empire from being a nation to acquiring citizenship or minority status41. The greatest benefit of this change in situation for “minorities” was it offered an atmosphere where they could express themselves comfortably. The dissolution of the system before Tanzimat which limited the places they lived, buildings, wearing apparel, ceremonies like marriage, divorce and funerals, and religious rites, found its most tangible results in architecture.

This was a style of architecture that moved away from being local and emulated European styles, becoming more and more monumental.

35 Barkley, H. A Ride Through Asia Minor and Armenia, 1891. John Murray, London: 150.
36 Ramsay, W. M. Impression of Turkey, 1897. Hodder and Stoughton, London: 227.
37 Kocabasoglu, U. America in Anatolia with its Own Documents, 2000. Imge Publishing, Ankara: 29
38 Hülagü, M. “ Clan Cases in Kayseri in mid-19th Century”, 1998. Papers of 2nd History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri: 360
39 Ozsoy, H. “First Arrival of American Missioners to Kayseri and Talas American School of Girls”, 1998. Kayseri. Papers of 2nd History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri: 365
40 Alan, G. “Foundation and Development of Kayseri Station and Tip Stations Within the Framework of Organization of American Board in Anatolia”, 2003. 3rd History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri: 46
41 Bozkurt, G. Juridical Situation of Non-Muslim Citizens of Ottoman Empire (1839-1914), 1996. TTK Publishing, Ankara: 70.



Considering that there was enough economic power in Kayseri, it can be seen that Kayseri hadn’t got any difficulty in this experience as a city, providing architects and construction workers for the Empire for centuries. Churches, for their function and symbolic values, formed the kind of structure on which this progress could be observed. Builders who were unable to construct new churches but renewed old churches with the permission of the Sultan before Tanzimat could use their abilities unconditionally.

In addition to the Tanzimat and Islahat reforms, missionaries, nourished by these reforms, affected the social background and architectural appearance of the city. Most of the structures provided by missionary activities were schools and hospitals42. Missionaries drew attention with their work in education in Kayseri. However, various opinions arose about churches. It is mentioned that because of the reactions from Muslims, missionary religious work, like “opening churches”, couldn’t make progress but it happened because of the understanding attitude of local authorities43. On the contrary, ABCFM (American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions) succeeded in opening 436 places of worship by 189344. Two Protestant churches were opened in Kayseri in 1861, 8 churches in 1898 and the number of the churches reached 19 in 191045. One of them was in Zincidere (Photo 1). The church was

42 < http://www.ktuvakfi.org.tr/gorusler4.htm >
43 Augustinos, G. Small Asian Greeks: Ethnicity and Belief in 19th Century, 1997,Ayrac Publishing, Ankara: 196-197
44 Kantarci, S. < http://www.ktuvakfi.org.tr/gorusler4.htm >
45 Alan, G.: 53-54.


built after application by Protestants to the Sublime Port in 1883 because of the poor condition of the house they used for worship46. It was stated in the application that the cost of 300 Ottoman liras would be acquired from charities. The building was used for different purposes after it had lost its function as a church, and it is now used as a museum with traditional materials and old photos. It draws attention with its design different from other churches and its red-colored appearance.

In this period of equality for all non-Muslim groups in the Empire, many Orthodox and Gregorian churches were built in Kayseri and nearly all of the districts or villages with Christians had a church47. Surviving Armenian churches are in the city center, in Tavlusun, Darsiyak48, Efkere, Germir, Develi, Gesi, Nirze and Tomarza today.

The Surp Asdvadzadzin Church in Kicikapi in the city center was built in 1835 and was repaired in 1875 and 188549. It continued its function until the First World War and later was used as storage facility, exhibition hall, city hall and police station. Today, it is used as a center

46 Adl. Mzhp. 76/5 1310 M 5-10
47 Aktan, A. “The Situation of Non-Muslim Subjects in Kayseri According to Ottoman Documents”, 2000. 3rd History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri.
48 Although it is not definite, one of the church in Darsiyak is thought to be Armenian
49 Alboyaciyan, A. Badmootium Hye Gesaria, 1937, Cairo.


of courses in sports, art, music, foreign language, ancillary to the Youth
and Sport City Administration (Photo 2).

In the city center Surp Krikor Lusarovic Church was built in 1859 and was restored in 1883-1885. In 1902-1903, the church was gilded internally and the section for women, the upper floor chorus and worship places were widened. It was reopened in 1919 after the First World War with little repair50. Presently, it is used as a church; it is the only Gregorian Church open for worship in Central Anatolia (Photos 3, 4).

The church in Tavlusun, for which there was a restoration mandate dated 1835, is not used for any purposes today. It is not known what the name of the church in Darsiyak is, whether Surp Ansreas or Surp Toros51, but there is possibility that it could be a Greek church52.

50 Tuglaci, P. Istanbul Armenian Churches, 1991. Pars Publishing Ltd,Istanbul: 268.
51 Kevorkian and Paboudjiyan: 223.
52 Detailed disscussion on this subject is given in thesis.


In Efkere, the name of “Surp Stepanos Church” (Photo 5) was mentioned in 1683 firstly53. The present church was built in 187154 and has an application for restoration approved in 188655.

The building with its collapsed dome draws attention with its all-consuming entrance facade and internal decoration. Only the apses and a portion of western and side walls of the Surp Stepanos Church in Germir are standing today. Surp Toros Church dated 1895 in Develi was opened to

53 http://www. efkere.com
54 Alboyaciyan, A.
55 Aktan, A.: 14


serve as a mosque in 1978 and a minaret was added in the same year. Restoration started by Head Office of Foundations in 1999 was accomplished in 2002 (Photo 6).

Surp Bogos Bedros Church which was approved to be built in 1835 in Tomarza56 was successively used as the storage of Soil Products Office, cinema and city hall storage (Photos 7, 8).

There is an ironic rationality in embodying the dissolution of a system centered on religious identities mostly with religious structures.

Travelers who wrote about Kayseri in this period mentioned a Christian city image57. Bell sounds and the crucifixes on domes were commented as the rebirth of the churches, demolished in the period of Alparslan, was connected to the loss of power of Islam at that time. Foreign eyes saw a city of church complexes and stone houses58 rather than the minarets there.

56 C. Adl. 2885 Ra 1251
57 Naumann.:214
58 Schweinetz.:114


REFERENCES

AKTAN, A. “The Situation of Non-Muslim Subjects in Kayseri According to Ottoman Documents”, 2000. 3rd History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri.
ALAN, G. “Foundation and Development of Kayseri Station and Tip Stations Within the Framework of Organization of American Board in Anatolia”, 2003. 3rd History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri
ALBOYACIYAN, A. Badmootiun Hye Gesaria, 1937, Cairo.
ANDREASYAN, H. D. Simeon. Armenians in History 1608-1619, 1999. Civiyazilari, İstanbul
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BARKLEY, H. A Ride Through Asia Minor and Armenia, 1891. John Murray, London
BOZKURT, G. Juridical Situation of Non-Muslim Citizens of Ottoman Empire (1839-1914), 1996. TTK Publishing, Ankara
CAYIRDAG, M. “ Buildings and Epigraphs of the Period of Sultan Abdulhamid II in Kayseri “, 2000. Papers of 1st History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri
DAMADYAN, K. “Saint Instructive Grigor and Importance of Kayseri for Armenian Church”, 2001. International Anatolian Beliefs Congress Papers, 23-28 October 2000, Ankara
ERAVSAR, O. Kayseri in Travel Books, 2000. Chamber of Commerce Publishing, Kayseri
ERDOGRU, M. A. “Non-Muslims in Kayseri in 16th and 17th Centuries”, 2000. Papers of 1st History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri, April 11-12, 1996: 71-79
GULER, A. Demographic Situation in Kayseri”, 2000. Papers of 3rd History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri
HÜLAGÜ, M. “ Clan Cases in Kayseri in mid-19th Century”, 1998. Papers of 2nd History Symposium of Kayseri and Neighbourhood, Erciyes University, Kayseri
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KANTARCI, S. < http://www.ktuvakfi.org.tr/gorusler4.htm >
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RAMSAY, W. M. Impression of Turkey, 1897. Hodder and Stoughton, London
SAFRASTYAN, A. Lists and Declarations of Armenian Churches and Monasteries Presented by Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate to Turkish Justice and Denominations Administration, 1966.
SOYKAN, T. Non-Muslims in Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, Utopia Bookstore, Istanbul
SVAJIAN, S. A. A Trip Through Historic Armenia, 1983. Greenhill Publishing, NY
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VARJABEDIAN, J.. http://www. efkere.com Preserving the History of Efkere, Turkey.
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