Kirklar (Mor Behnam) Church, Mardin City Center, Turkey

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Kırklar Church, located in Shar District in Mardin city center, belongs to Assyrian Ancient (Old) Orthodox community. This church is one of the most spectacular structures in Mardin.

 

This church built by the Syrians in honour of  Mor Behnam and his sister Saro in 569, operates as the metropolitan bishop of all Syrians in Turkey (Except Istanbul metropolitan bishop).

This metropolitan bishop is directly linked to the Patriarchate of Damascus.

It is estimated that the building was built in the 6th century BC. The original name of the church is Mor Behnam Church. However, the Church of Forty Martyrs (now known as Şehidiye Mosque) the metropolitan center of the Assyrians, and the Mor Tuma Churches were turned into a mosque by the Artukoğlu Timurtaşoğlu Gazi Necmettin Lebi in 1170 and the forty Syriac martyrs were transferred to the Mor Behnam Church. Mor Behnam Church has been called as Kırklar Church after this date. For this reason, the Church is known as Kırklar Church among the people.

In this Church, there is a large painting with a width of 3 meters and a length of 2 meters, depicting the martyrdom adventure of the forty martyrs and martyrs Mor Behnam and his sister Saro.

The rectangular church on the east side of a long courtyard is divided into sections by arches carried by twelve thick columns. The 400-year-old wooden doors of the church, the curtains with root paint, the bell tower house and the divan with the carved stone carvings such as lace are very impressive.

Kırklar Church was the place where the spiritual and administrative works of the Assyrian Ancient Patriarchate came to Mardin after 1923.

The patriarchs and metropolises who were employed here occupied the rooms in the courtyard of the church, whose ceilings were made of cut stones. However, in the following years, a new patriarchal center was built on the metropolitan room during the reign of Jacob II.

There is a small church with a solid structure to the southeast of the Kırklar Church. This section is called the School Church. The school was opened in 1799 and remained in operation until 1928.

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