By: Vahe Assarian
The Armenian people are proud Christians. The first Christian church in Armenia was built in the 4th century and is the oldest and most famous Christian church in Armenia called Echmiadzin. The architectural design of the churches between the 4th and 7th century lives on today in the 21st century. Sadly, the churches that are in present day Turkey have, for the most part, been destroyed. Armenians accepted Christianity over 1,700 years ago. In 301 AD, under King Trdat the third, Christianity became the official religion of the Armenian people and made Armenia the world’s first Christian state.
One of the most famous lands in Armenian History regarding churches is the City of Ani, which is also known as the City of a 1001 Churches. The City of Ani today is not what it once was when the Armenian people populated that region. The churches today are unmanned and are falling apart. The once great land of the Armenian people with many proud Armenian churches has turned into a ghost town.
Below, I have put in a link that will show you how the churches in the City of Ani look today in present-day Turkey or, as I like to call, in Eastern-Armenia. http://www.kuriositas.com/2011/01/ani-ghost-city-of-1001-churches.html
There are multiple types of church designs that the Armenian people have created and kept over the years. The most famous design is the shape of a cross, ranging from the second to the first floor. Also on inside of each church is its own unique ornament sketch on the wall.
The next link will show you churches that have been destroyed or have fallen apart in present-day Turkey. These blueprints show the shape of some of the churches in Armenia. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you will see some styles of the ornament sketches on the walls. http://www.virtualani.org/tomarza/index.htm
Aside from churches in the Historic Armenian lands, the Armenian people also have their own private Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. There are four Quarters in Jerusalem – the smallest is the Armenian Quarter, and the others are the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, and the Muslim Quarter. It is an honor for any religion to own a piece of the holy land and it is even greater an honor for the Armenian people to own a piece of the holy land. Even more fascinating is the fact that the Armenian people built their own church in the Armenian Quarter.
Here in the United States, Armenian-Americans are trying to pass a bill in Congress to have Turkey return Christian churches back to their rightful owners. The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is working hard to pass House Resolution 306 (H.R. 306). The bill has passed through the United States Foreign Affairs Committee and in the United States House of Representatives in December 2011. The United States Senate is next on the list to pass H.R.306, but this vote has yet to be scheduled.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and viewing the pictures in the links. Now, if you are really interested in getting involved, please help the ANCA in passing H.R.306 by calling or e-mailing your representatives and asking them to co-sponsor this bill while helping the Christian populations gain their rightful churches back from the Turkish government. http://www.anca.org/action_alerts/action_disp.php?aaid=61080991.