The Forgotten Church

Translated from ‘AGOS’ by Oşin Elagöz , Istanbul, 19 February 2015

In his Feb. 8th “Haberturk” column, writer and historian Murat Bardakci wrote that the Hamza Bey Mosque of Thessaloniki, Greece is now an erotic film cinema. He added: “We [Turks] didn’t commit shameful acts such as converting a worship center to erotic cinema.”

Bardakci has forgotten that at least one church in Turkey was converted to erotic cinema. It  was the Soorp Yerrortutyun (Holy Trinity) Armenian church of Eskishehir .  

Translated from ‘AGOS’ by Oşin Elagöz , Istanbul, 19 February 2015

In his Feb. 8th “Haberturk” column, writer and historian Murat Bardakci wrote that the Hamza Bey Mosque of Thessaloniki, Greece is now an erotic film cinema. He added: “We [Turks] didn’t commit shameful acts such as converting a worship center to erotic cinema.”

Bardakci has forgotten that at least one church in Turkey was converted to erotic cinema. It  was the Soorp Yerrortutyun (Holy Trinity) Armenian church of Eskishehir .  

The Bardakci column was in response to a declaration by Greece’s Syriza Party deputy Huseyin Zeybek (of Turkish origin) that it was time to build a mosque in Athens. Bardakci then mentioned the condition of old Ottoman mosques in Greece.

Bardakci wrote that a part of Hamza Bey Mosque of Thessaloniki was once converted into an erotic cinema. He added: “It is true that September 6 to 7 (1955) we disgraced the Greek Orthodox churches, the priests and the Greeks, but we didn’t commit the shameful acts such as converting worship centers into erotic cinemas. However, Eskishehir’s municipal records clearly document that the Armenian Soorp Yerrortutyun Church had been converted to an erotic cinema before it became the “Zubeyde Hanim Cultural Center”. The inhabitants of Eskishehir confirm the fact.

In 2008 Nemci Unver, the general art director of Eskishehir Cultural Center, said in an interview with the “Hurriyet” newspaper that the Armenian church, which was close to a military station in the Cumhuriyet district of Eskishehir, was for 20 years an erotic film cinema although the Armenian community complained about the sacrilege. Later the building was abandoned for some years and became a refuge for junkies.

Detailled information about the church was provided (1990) by Associate Professor Dr. Feyyaz Bodur in the “Kurgu” magazine of the Anadolu University. In the article, titled “The Cinemas of Eskishehir Yesterday and Today”, the professor said that the church was used as an erotic cinema. He gave detailled information about the name of its first administrator and when the building was sold to another family which continued to run it as an erotic cinema.

The historic cinema (church) was one of the most luxurious cinemas of Eshishehir. The building also included a small second cinema for children.

After the arrival of television and due to political developments people began to lose interest in the movies. The children’s cinema was closed but the main cinema remained open and still operates as such.

Since 1974 the cinema has screened solely erotic films. However, the administrator says that since interest in erotic films is waning, he must change programming and show quality films.

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