European Stability Initiative - ESI - 13 December 2017, 13:59
URL:

 Back People: Berc Abrahamoglu - Next 
Berc Abrahamoglu
Berc Abrahamoglu

"Today, there is nobody left. In the old days all the children grew up together, Armenian and Turks. They played together on the streets and used to visit each other."

Between 1451 and 1452 Fatih Sultan Mehmet – on the verge of conquering Constantinople –brought Armenian stonemasons to the shores of the Bosporus to build the Rumeli Hisari fortress. Some of the Armenians settled in what later became the village of Rumeli Hisari and built a church. Some of their descendants live here to this day.  Berc Abrahamoglu came to Rumeli Hisari inthe 1950s. There were about 500 Armenians living in Rumeli Hisari at the time.

Berc administers the small Armenian Church in Rumeli Hisari, hidden in a beautiful olive garden overlooking the Bosporus. In recent decades Berc has seen the number of Armenians living here decrease steadily. Today, he tells us, there are only 25 Armenians left.

"People still leave because their wooden houses wear out and rot, and they cannot afford to repair them. Apart from that, people get old and do not want to live alone in the big wooden houses. […] Migration abroad became very common. Many Armenians migrated to America, France and other places as well."

Until the 1940s there was an Armenian primary school in the building next to the church. Today, Armenian families settle closer to the centre of Istanbul, where they can send their children to Armenian schools.


Berc Abrahamoglu

"We speak Turkish in our home because we do not speak Armenian very well. In order to learn the language one has to go to school; otherwise you forget it. I attended the elementary school until the 4th grade. After that I had to work so I could not finish the school. The circumstances we were in forced us to work."

Today, the Armenian cemetery above Rumeli Hisari is surrounded by a former gecekondu and kept by a Muslim farmer, Mehmet Eryigit. Anatolian migrants started to settle in the area in the 1960s.

"They have come here and settled, built their shanty houses and lived there. We have nothing to do with it. We just watched them. Here there were strawberry gardens, fields and a dairy. All these have become informal settlements."

October 2008

 Back People: Berc Abrahamoglu - Next 
Istanbul - Truth, fear and hope
Country profile   Clips from the film   About the film
         
People
People
  Places
Places
  Issues
Issues

© European Stability Initiative - ESI 2017
19 October 2008, 00:00