TOKİ to build Armenian monastery in military zone

December 19, 2011, Monday/ 17:15:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) will build an Armenian monastery, a replica of the original, in a military zone in Ankara's Etlik neighborhood as part of an agreement with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

According to a report that appeared in the Habertürk daily on Monday, TOKİ will build a hospital for the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA) in a military zone between the Etlik and Dışkapı neighborhoods. In lieu of payment, the Ministry of Defense gave TOKİ another military area, which TOKİ is expected to use for a shopping center and houses as part of a signed agreement with the Ministry of Defense.

However, a rift emerged between the ministries as the Ministry of Culture and Tourism objected to TOKİ's planned use of that zone. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism raised its opposition in the Council of Ministers before approving the agreement, saying that the zone is of cultural importance, having once contained a number of historic buildings. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism demanded that TOKİ reconstruct the Vank Monastery, which was built in 1759 by the Armenian community and destroyed in the early 1920s.

Taking its original size and architecture into account, the Vank Monastery will be built in the area which TOKİ is expected to use in return for building the military hospital.

The monastery is seen in a painting called “Ankara” housed in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum.

Architect Mehmet Emin Çevik designed the plan for the monastery after examining the painting and other historical documents, the daily reported. Çevik stated that the monastery will be built as a replica of the original although no physical traces are left.

The Vank Monastery was the religious center for the Armenian community that lived in and around Ankara during the Ottoman era until the early 1900s.

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