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The Multicultural Heritage of Anatolia

in a map created by the Hrant Dink Foundation

Cultural Heritage Map of Turkey, created thanks to the project of the Hrant Dink Foundation, is an interactive online map that lists monuments and other relevant buildings set up in Turkey by Armenians, Greeks, Syriacs and Jews. A unique tool providing lots of data showing how many of these buildings have been lost or deteriorated over time. To see this just visit the website: Turkiyekulturvarliklari.hrantdink.org/en/

The Hrant Dink Foundation undertook the inventory of churches, synagogues, monasteries, schools, orphanages, hospitals and cemeteries built by the various communities, and after almost two years of work revealed about 10,000 facilities. This inventory, which testifies to the cultural heritage of the communities that lived in Anatolia for centuries, is the largest ever created and is now available to all. In the map, in Turkish and English, one can find both buildings still standing, those which were destroyed or damaged and those which have been used for purposes other than the original one, as stores, warehouses, or converted into mosques. The project had the support of the Turkish EU Ministry, Open Society Foundation and Chrest Foundation.

Project coordinator Merve Kurt said that this is the first initiative to make known the cultural heritage of non-Muslim Anatolia and that the map is open to contributions from everyone. "Access to data is easy. Photos, historical facts and their sources are shown on the map", he said in an interview to the weekly Agos (founded and headed by Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist of Turkish origin killed in 2007).

According to Kurt this map will raise awareness that there are many historic buildings that should be protected. "Although officially registered, they are in ruins and treasure hunters are still doing excavations works in those places. In each region there are preservation boards, but in Kayseri, for example, there are 30-35 officially registered sites, while we have listed 130. Some are totally ignored. Our work is an important for them".

Vahakh Kesisyan, one of the researchers involved in the project, explained that everyone can make a contribution through the interactive map, adding data and make changes in the current information. "There is also an option for adding a new item by which people can send photos and information about a structure that has not been listed in our inventory. We will receive them as suggestions and keep them as data", he said according to Agos.

15 February 2016

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