Restoration begins at 1,600-year-old quake-hit church

The Culture and Tourism Ministry's teams, along with local heritage crews, have initiated restoration efforts at the 1,600-year-old Saint George Church in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır nearly eight months after the structure experienced grave damage in the twin earthquakes.

The restoration efforts are expected to conclude in a year, Müjdat Gizligöl, the head of the Diyarbakır Museum Directorate, stated, adding that the church is one of the most significant structures that the ministry gears up to protect after the disaster.

Originally constructed as the administrative church in the fourth century A.D. by the Romans, Saint George Church underwent another restoration process in 2020.

After its restoration was completed, the ancient church was repurposed as an art gallery in June 2021 but suffered substantial damage rendering it unusable following the twin earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.7 and 7.6.

Once the restoration is completed, the church will once again serve as an art gallery, Gizligöl said, noting that the church will host a series of cultural and artistic events.

"Before the earthquake, we used this place as an art gallery. Public institutions or individuals would come, requesting space for exhibitions, and we would allocate it to them. Many splendid art events took place here," he expressed.

"Our church sustained severe damage. Restoration efforts commenced a month ago and are expected to be completed within a year. Subsequently, it will resume its role as an art gallery. Spanning 35,000 square meters, it is one of the most exceptional structures," Gizligöl added.

The February earthquakes resulted in extensive damage to numerous historical structures in 11 southern provinces.

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