A historical church in Turkey’s Tralleis (Τραλλεῖς, Turkish: Aydın) province was the site of controversy after the entrance to the religious site was blocked with a newly constructed wall at the entrance.

The church, located in Akbük village in Didima (Δίδυμα, Turkish: Didim) district, had the wall built by “unknown people” resulting in the closure of two entrances to the Greek Orthodox church.

Entrance to historic Greek church in Turkey was illegally walled up to block entrance 2

The illegal building of the wall was announced by the head of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Tralleis province, Mehmet Ümit Tuncer.

He revealed that there are rumors that the Didima Municipality had put up the wall at the entrance door of the gate in order to be able to issue a license to serve alcohol in nearby restaurants.

By closing the entrances to the church with a wall, an attempt was made to circumvent the law that there should be no functioning religious institutions 100 meters away from restaurants selling alcohol.

Tuncer said the department had reported the crime to the prosecutor’s office.

This church is included in the list of historical territories protected by the state.

The 200-year-old Greek Orthodox Church underwent so-called restorations in 2007. Instead it was revealed that sledgehammers and other tools were used to break off the churches exterior stone and artifacts found in the church were stolen and taken home by the site’s chief.

Workers during the restoration process found jugs, gold and copper chains, a ring and even human bones. They handed these artifacts to the site manager who took them home to try and sell them.

In 2018, a local news site reported that the church had been left in decay despite being supposedly restored in 2007. The news site quoted a tradesman as saying:

“We were embarrassed to tell our foreign guests coming to Akbük. A solution must be found immediately. Didim is a touristic city and draws attention mostly with its historical buildings, it is our shame that the church was left this way and left to its fate. I am calling out to the authorities here, find a solution to this matter as soon as possible, We cannot explain this to our foreign guests who come here; because there is nothing to explain. “