The Armenian Heritage of Istanbul is one of the oldest, richest and most varied in the Middle east.
At the turn of the 20th Century, the once far-flung Ottoman Empire was crumbling at the edges.
Armenians (historically one of the largest ethnic minorities) in the area were blamed for siding with the Russians and the Young Turks began a campaign to portray the Armenians as a threat to the state.
Armenians mark the date April 24, 1915, when several hundred Armenian intellectuals were rounded up, arrested and later executed as the start of the Armenian genocide (the G word is a crime in Turkey) and it is generally said to have extended to 1917.
On the eve of World War I, there were two million Armenians in the declining Ottoman Empire. By 1922, there were fewer than 400,000.
Tens of thousands of Armenians converted to Islam during World War I to escape the Ottoman massacres and their identity gradually slipped from memory and history.
60,000 Turkish-Armenians form modern Turkey’s Armenian community and have remained in the country despite the long shadow of history.
In daily life they do everything to keep culture and language intact, despite being a tiny Christian community in a majority Muslim country.
Despite the crushing weight of this past, families refuse to emigrate.
At present, the Armenian community in Istanbul has 17 schools, 17 cultural and social organizations, three newspapers ,two sports clubs, and two health establishments as well as numerous religious foundations set up to support these activities.
Our tour will include a walk to the Armenian Patriarchal Church in Kumkapı and then a visit to Hrant Dink’s burial in Balıklı Cemetery.
Dink is an Armenian journalist, writer and activist. He was also the chief editor and publisher of Agos newspaper.
Agos had played an important role in presenting Armenian historical grievances through publishing of articles and opinions in the Turkish language, addressed to the Turkish public opinion. Hrant Dink was assassinated in front of his newspaper offices on January 19, 2007.
We’ll discover the famous neighbourhood of Samatya and continue to lunch. Our afternoon will be hosted at the Agos newspaper offices by one of its founders Harut Şeşetyan.
Kurtuluş will be the third neighborhood we’ll see as part of our walk to discover the Armenian Heritage in Istanbul.