Also known as Taksiyarhis Church….. It’s one of the most important historical buildings on the Cunda Island, which is in Ayvalık district of Balıkesir. The church that salutes the Northern Aegean since 1873 has been contributing to the common culture treasure of our country for five years as Ayvalık Rahmi M. Koç Museum.

The Church Devoted To The Archangels
The church which has been restored by Rahmi M. Koç Museum and Culture Foundation has been built in 1873 by the Eastern Orthodox community (Moschonese) on its former foundations as Metropolis church. In those years, the majority of the island was of Greek origin and had a population of around 8-10 thousand.  The church was dedicated to ‘Taksiyarhis’ in other words to archangels Gabriel and Michael and still counts as one of the most important monuments on the island.

The rectangular building which extends in the East-West direction has a “Cross in Square” structure whose origin dates back to the Middle Byzantine period and has a planned construction. In the middle of the barrel-vaulted cross arms extending in four directions is a stained glass lighting lantern. The triangular pediment adorning the facade, two columns with Ionic capitals and two pilasters that carry the architrave made of garlic stone (A lintel or beam resting on a column header in classical architecture) and arched windows are features that reflect this style.

Only one of the two bell towers survived till today. Garlic stones extracted from famous stone quarries of the region was used in the walls and jambs which were built with masonry technique. The four bearing columns divide the naos which is the area where the congregation is gathered, into two naves- North and South- which consist of middle and side naves in ancient basilica and churches. The bearing pillars are made of bricks and covered with lime mortar and plaster. To the west is the narthex where the entrance is. In the east, the nave and bema, which are two special platforms, were finished with three apses covering the expansive altar room which resembles the church architecture of the late Byzantine period.

The apse of the bema is larger and the lateral apse is smaller. The naves and bema are covered with vaults and finished with three half domes. The gallery was designed as a women’s section (Gynaikeion). The interior is decorated with floral and geometric motifs, religious figures that are covered with lime mortar and plaster.

It Was In Danger Of Destruction
Between 1927 and 1928, the church building was turned into a mosque without a minaret. During this time, the iconostasis with religious icons that were placed in a certain order was dismantled and the depictions were painted on. After the earthquake in 1944, the building was evacuated due to the damages it sustained. The monumental building, which was destroyed by humans and the passage of time, was thus left uncared and worn out.

Taksiyarhis Church, registered in 1989 as immovable cultural property, has been exposed to significant earthquakes and other natural events over the years. Deep cracks were formed in the vaults and domes, its carrier stones, bricks, and all other binding materials were worn off. It was damaged by the storm in 2003 and was closed to visits because it became dangerous. In addition to environmental and climatic conditions, it has also been largely destroyed due to illicit diggings to seek treasure. One of the bell towers in the roof section has been destroyed, the other had deep cracks, and these bricks had been in danger of destruction under rain and sun. Most of the paintings on the walls have fallen into ruin.

In 22 Months It Got Its Previous Glory Back
After a successful restoration process lasting nearly 2 years, the building regained its previous glory and was opened to visitors as the Rahmi M. Koç Museum in Ayvalık on 31 May 2014. The museum aims to ensure the transfer of industrial heritage to future generations by presenting the scientific and technological memory of humanity to the examination of local and foreign visitors. Besides, based on the inventories of the Rahmi M. Koç Museums in İstanbul and Ankara, it offers a wide collection from tin toys to steam mechanical models, prams and time measuring instruments. There is also a café where visitors can relax and a souvenir shop where souvenirs are sold.

Rahmi M. Koç Musem and Culture Foundation on the Cunda Island has also been used as a library since the 1800s and restored the Agios Yannis Church and the mill next to it which had been severely damaged during the population exchange and thus provided with an important library called Sevim and Necdet city library in 2007. The main church of the monastery, which was affiliated with the Fener Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul during the time of Patriarch Teodosios, is located in the northwest part. This chapel is an indispensable part of the monastery with its architecture. At the same time, the library here began to prosper from 1835 onwards and was renowned for its publications on church law of the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as religious books. Only the cornerstones remained from the mill which is said to most likely have provided floor to the chapel and which was on the west side of the chapel which was destroyed during the population exchange in 1924.


Contribution O The Culture Tourism
Especially in summer, visitors from many different cities flock to the museum without caring about the distance they have to travel. The staff of  Ayvalık Rahmi M. Koç Museum, which is generally of interest to middle and high school students, state that they have a cultural and educational structure that opens the horizons of children in particular.

A Rich Collection From Human History
Various technical documents used in the last centuries history of humanity, vehicle and ship models, diesel engines, time-measuring instruments, maritime instrument tools, compasses, communication devices that provide in-ship communication, steam mechanical parts, collections about the history of medical and pharmaceutical science, astronomy designs, fantastic hundreds of collections, such as time-measuring instruments, are available to visitors.

Sevim And Necdet Kent Lıbrary
Famous Turkish businessman Muhtar Kent donated more than 1,300 books of his late father to Sevim and Necdet Kent Library. The library with its veranda with a panoramic view of Ayvalık and its charming cafeteria is free of charge and can be visited every day except for Mondays.

Organıc Connections Between The Church And The Museum
In the museum, works before and after the Industrial Revolution that are not previously exhibited in any installation, historical wall paintings and visual materials of the church attract the attention of the visitors.

By: Tarık Yılmaz / Photos: Rahmi Koç Museum Directorate
*This article was  published in the  November-December issue of Marmara Life. 



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