Page 49 - MIGRATION

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47
MIGRATION, MEMORY, HERITAGE: SOCIO-CULTURAL
APPROACHES TO THE BULGARIAN-TURKISH BORDER
At the other end of town, to the north-east, you will find the Bulgarian church, St.
George. The church is in the Barutluk neighbourhood, populated by a lot of Bulgarians in
the past. The style is familiar from the late Revival Period architecture. The construction was
begun in April 1880 and was finished within a few months. Everything took place with the
permission of the then sultan Abdul Hamid the Second. The church is still functional. We were
interested in the icons and after seeing themwe lit a candle. There is a unique Bulgarian library
there. An actual small ethnographic museum is part the space there too. You feel as if at home.
Countless people flow into the church at all times. With the help of quite a few benefactors and
the government itself, the church was renovated a few years ago. Even if modest in scale, St
George attracts visitors with its cosy atmosphere and the ambience of the church plate. This is
the place that a Bulgarian in Edirne must see...
(Raikova 2011)
.
The St George Church is a holy place for all Bulgarians. It is situated in a quiet
neighbourhood with one-storey buildings, painted in different colours. Patriotic Bulgarians
have lent their energy and finances to the church to sustain it until nowadays. The backyard is
tidy and green. You can sit here, have a coffee and wonder if you could be a voluntary victim
for Bulgarianness. To satisfy their curiosity, Muslims enter the church yard too...
(Sirachkova
2011)
The
Saints Konstantin and Elena
church
was built in Kirişhane in 1869 with the resources
of the Bulgarian community. It was restored from the ruins with the financial support of the
Directorate of Religions at the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Bulgaria (the budget subsidy
amounted to 400,000 Euro). It was opened and sanctified in 2008 by the metropolitan of Ruse,
Neofit, bishop Naum, priests from Sofia and Svilengrad, in the presence of the Bulgarian Prime
Minister and the Minister of Culture in the Republic of Turkey (for more details, see Hristov 2009).
The Saints Konstantin and Elena church is situated in the south-eastern end of town,
in a quiet, cosy neighbourhood. We were told that Tundzha ran somewhere near and flowed
into the Maritsa River. Regretfully, we could not see it. The church was built in 1869 by patriotic
Bulgarians, resettlers from Thrace and Western Macedonia. The name of the construction
foreman has not been forgotten, Konstantin the Cossack. The plaque on the west-facing wall
of the church reads: “Khan Azis started building this church to glorify the coessential, vivifying
and inseparable Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and with the benefaction of
his Emperor’s Majesty Sultan Abdul, ... on the 3
rd
March 1869; it was finished on 25
th
September
that year ... with the charity of the Bulgarian livestock-trader society in Edirne”. Instinctively,
when entering the church, one feels more humble and kind-hearted. The soul rejoices in the
quiet and the beauty in there. The most recent sign of time at that holy Bulgarian site is the
monument of Exarch Antim I, unveiled in 2010. It is in the church yard, which is marvellously
kept up and beautifully green. In the early days of autumn when I was there, the cosy place had