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A Legacy That Sheds Light On Cunda's History: Taxiarchis Church / Rahmi M. Koç Museum

Updated: Feb 21

Cunda Island is a beautiful location in Ayvalık and has been home to various cultures and civilizations throughout history.

One of the symbols of the island is the Taksiyarhis Church which was built in 1873 by the Greek Orthodox community of Alibey Island as the Mother Church. It was named after the guardian archangels Gabriel and Michael, and over the years, it has become one of the most important monuments of the island.

An interesting feature of the Church of Taxiarchis is that, according to the locals, it supplied Orthodox churches around the world with soap, olive oil and olives. Thus, this magnificent building was not only a religious center, but also contributed to the economic life of the island.

History had changed the fate of this sacred building over time. In 1927-1928, the church building was converted into a mosque without a minaret and the iconostasis was dismantled and the depictions painted over. When the 1944 earthquake damaged the building, people were forced to abandon the church. Lack of care and man-made destruction had worn this historic building down over time and left it in a decrepit state.

However, in 1976, the church became a protected cultural heritage site, and in 1989, it was registered by the Bursa Cultural and Natural Heritage Protection Board. Eventually, it was taken under protection by the High Council for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Assets and designated as Group 1.

After a meticulous restoration process of approximately twenty-two months, the church was restored to its former glory and opened to visitors as the Ayvalık Rahmi M. Koç Museum on May 31, 2014.

Today, the museum exhibits a diverse collection of artefacts, including boats, toys, old automobile models, miniatures, baby carriages, and time-measuring instruments. It takes visitors on a historical and cultural journey, showcasing the island's glorious past.

Thanks to its glorious past and its renewed identity as the Rahmi M. Koç Museum, this historical building will continue to be the most prominent symbol of Cunda Island.

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