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Monday, 23 April 2018


Georgian temples abandoned in Turkey

2013-02-07 14:49

Georgian temples abandoned in Turkey. 29039.jpeg

The Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia does not comment on the restoration work in the temples Ishkhani and Oshki in the territory of neighboring Turkey. The press center of the Ministry provided us the following answer: "Negotiations are being held; we cannot tell you anything specific at this stage". Does this mean that the parties are unable to come to a common denominator? Since the restoration of ancient monuments is in the interest of both states, the pace of work must be really fast, doesn't it? Though, Georgian and Turkish experts are sounding the alarm about the poor state of the temples for several years.

In February 2011, 28 Georgian specialists went to a two-day expedition to Tao-Klarjeti. That was an excellent opportunity to see firsthand the deplorable condition of two historic churches - Oshki and Ishkhani. A year earlier, Georgia and Turkey started informal talks on the need for restoration of historical and cultural monuments in the territory of both countries. Then it was decided that in exchange for the restoration of the churches Ishkhani, Handzti, Oshki and Otkhta in Turkey Georgia would restore three mosques in Batumi and in different regions of the country, as well as construction of a new one - a mosque Aziz. Nikoloz Vacheishvili, the head of the Agency for cultural heritage protection was first who announced this.

The Ministries of the two countries started intensive negotiations. But they came to a standstill almost immediately. The reason was the mosque which was to be built in Batumi. It turned out that it would have two functions - a museum and mosque. And it was to be built in the place chosen by the Turkish side, while the place chosen was the apartment building.

Georgian public was outraged. First of all they were concerned about the exposition of the museum. The Georgians argued: "Is this a monument to the revival of the Turkish occupation?"

Wooden mosque of the same name was first built in 1868, in Batumi, for the Ottoman military, and had the name of the Ottoman sultan - Aziz. According to local residents, it had an architectural value. In 1940s of the twentieth century, a fire destroyed the obsolete building.

"A huge care" of the Georgian government over the religious buildings and issues of faith, which was presented as an argument in favor of the need to restore Aziz, caused laughter among the population. For example, in Kobuleti, Muhaestate village, there was destroyed the mosque in order to build a police building. In Batumi, protests began.

Meanwhile, the Ministries of Georgia and Turkey were actively negotiating. Despite the fact that the agreement was to be signed in 2011, for some reason this did not happen. A practical implementation of the project to save the temple was completely dependent on the outcome of ongoing Georgian-Turkish talks.

Let's return to the Georgian delegation of experts, who returned from the expedition. They have come to the unanimous conclusion that the sites needed urgent rehabilitation. Within a short time the Georgian side prepared a detailed plan to save the temples. They believed that in case of a timely start the monuments could be fully restored.

But a timely start has not followed. Today one of the domes of one of the temples - Handzta - is in extremely poor condition.

Last year, during the negotiations between the parties a progress took place. Turkish company "Anfora" designed a draft of restoration of the Ishkhani cathedral, and the government has allocated 1 million lira. And in Oshki there was carried out measuring work. This was announced by the employee of the National Center n.a. Chubinashvili, architectural historian David Khoshtaria.

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