Planning permission has been issued for the historical site in Germüş village, a former Armenian settlement 10 kilometres away from Urfa city centre.
Following an official proposal of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and a Cabinet decree, the environs of the Germüş Church in the Germüş Village of the Haliliye District of Şanlıurfa Province has been declared a “tourism development centre”. The decree was published in the Official Gazette no.28093 dated 23 October 2011. According to current legal procedure, once an area is declared a “tourism development centre”, all authority regarding the tourism-oriented use of state owned immovable properties in the area is transferred to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Investment and Enterprises General Directorate and the local administration is cut out from any involvement.
The Germüş Church and the settlement areas around it had previously been declared “urban archaeological sites” by the Şanlıurfa Cultural Assets Preservation Board. 8 residential buildings had also been registered within the same framework. However, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Department of Tourism Investments, Culture and Tourism Preservation and Development General Directorate issued a planning permission on Armenian Cemeteries and settlement sites. Although planning permission cannot be issued for areas declared ‘urban archaeological sites’, and although there are vacant lots around the Germüş Church, the issuance of a planning permission for an area on which a second church and 19th century stone buildings exist created confusion in the city.
The Germüş Church had become news in local and national media in 2013 with the report titled ‘They turned the church into a barn’. Reports stated that the Special Provincial Administration had prepared the survey, restitution and renovation project of Germüş Church, and that it could not be implemented because sufficient funds could not be secured despite approval from the Cultural Assets Preservation Board. The church is included in the promotion brochures of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and local institutions.
The monasteries of Germüş
Germüş was the largest village of the Urfa area before 1915, and in addition to the Surp Asdvadzadzin Church, the village also had a school with more than 100 students. There are also ruins of monasteries around the village, which were pilgrimage sites. Historical sources on Urfa state that there were 800 homes in the village, that the church was renovated in 1881 by Hagop Ardvisyan, that the names of the old monasteries around the village were Surp Hovhannes, Surp Tadeos, Surp Hagop and Surp Minas, and that there were two other churches in the village in addition to the Germüş Church.