Kümbet Mosque, aka The Church of 12 Apostles

Full of excitement, I rushed into Kümbet Mosque, a recommended site to visit while in the city of Kars. It was not until, I was on the way out that I felt great shame. You see, I had forgotten to cover my head with a scarf, and this is always requested of women entering mosques.

To be fair though, a majority of guidebooks do not call it Kümbet Mosque. They call it the Church of 12 Apostles, a name reflecting its history and exterior architecture. When it is constantly referred to as a church, it is easy to pale down its significance as a place of worship dedicated to Islam.

Kumbet Mosque

The mosque or church as it is commonly called has a turbulent history being passed from Christianity to Islam, back to Christianity and then being used as a museum before reverting back to a mosque. If that description has lost your thoughts, here is an easy timeline of its history.

Timeline of the Kumbet Mosque

  • It was constructed in 923 AD as a church
  • Converted into a mosque in 1064 AD, when the Seljuk Empire captured Kars.
  • From 1878 to 1921, it was converted back into a church when Russians ruled the city
  • From this date, it lay empty for many years with no purpose
  • From1969 to 1980, it was used a museum
  • In 1994, it opened as a mosque and was placed under preservation status.

Inside of the kumbet mosque

I think it is safe to assume, that there are no chances of it being used as a church again, however it seems to be better known as that, attracting major interest from tourists. Its small size means that you can observe the whole building within ten minutes but it is the intricate details that are the most interesting.

Kars Church of apostles

Why it is called the 12 Apostles Church?

There is a simple answer to this question and it is because the stone figures of the apostles are engraved into the dome, permanently set in stone for life

12 apostles

Readers question: If you were in Kars, would you visit the Kümbet Mosque, aka The Church of 12 Apostles?

Tell your friends...Share on Facebook26Share on Google+16Pin on Pinterest35Share on StumbleUpon183Share on Reddit0Email this to someone
Find me on..

Natalie

Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an eccentric,Internet addict with a passion for history. I really shouldn't travel because I can not read maps and always lose my way! But hey, that never stops me and it is part of the fun! Leave a comment below to join the discussions.
Find me on..

Comments

  1. says

    Actually, I was quite irritated that it had been turned into a mosque, given the size of the mosque right beside it. Discussed it with imam who was very sweet and said that turning into a mosque had meant it could be open. Frankly, I think it would have been enough to provide a custodian. I’m happy for old churches in areas with no mosque to be converted but this seemed quite unnecessary.

  2. says

    Beautiful photos as always Natalie, Kumbet looks fascinating, would love to go and visit. It feels like in the category of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul for me, changed so many hands throughout the history. Shame that it can’t be a museum but I agree with Alan, that now we can visit and enjoy the site, and it’s alive with folks.

    • says

      Will publish as soon as it is ready Inka. Also have a story about two wooden mosques that are interesting because of the colors they are painted in. Until I started looking into the history of this mosque/church, I never quite realised the amount of buildings like this. Find it all fascinating. Out of history, art and architecture, it is the history that attracts me the most
      Natalie wrote about..A Panoramic View of Rize from Çaykur Tea Garden

    • says

      Read the article. I already said it was a church and next time, be polite in your comments, or I will just delete them. Just found the rest of your comments in the Spam bin. THERE IS NO NEED TO EMPHASIS SHOUTING BY USING CAPITAL LETTERS. That is why the system thinks you are a spammer!

      • Frank says

        There’s a difference in calling this just a “church” than an “Armenian church”. You’re hiding invaluable information to your readers on the basis of ethnic and racial guidelines. Armenians didn’t build this church just so you can turn it into a mosque. Have some respect.

        • Nat says

          Right Frank – Stop speaking to me like I am a child. If you want me to add that it is an Armenian Church, this could have been done ages ago had you asked in an adult manner. This is called communication skills. Something you need to learn

          • Frank says

            The burden of “communication skills” relies on you. It’s your blog, not mine. This means being able to fully connect with your audience and readership in a legible and comprehensive manner. That’s not something you are doing. You’re continuing to conceal the fact that this is an Armenian church. “Armenian” is just one word, why not add it? Are you afraid of using that term? This blog is similar to how the current Turkish government conceals the fact that Armenians used to live on these lands. This blog is no different. My comment, whether it be in caps lock or not, shouldn’t really matter because the point I made is crystal clear. I’m sure there’s many people here wondering why in the hell would a church be converted to a mosque? There should be some historical reasoning behind it, right? Well the historical reason is clear. There was a genocide, the like of which the world had yet to have known. Armenians were annihilated, their churches destroyed, ransacked, and converted into mosques. The only remnants of these people are their memory, and people like you are destroying that as well. Whether you like to admit it or not, by concealing and denying the fact that a genocide occurred, you’re ultimately repeating one.

            • says

              No Frank – communication is a two way street. It is impossible to have a productive conversation if one party is rude and hostile like yourself. Also the Turkish government can not conceal that Armenians lived and still do live here. It is a fact of history!! No-one can change it.

              Re people wondering why churches would be converted into mosques – read up – it has and still is happening all over the country!

              Re the genocide, people with open minds who seek knowledge and information do know about it! For the people that don’t, changing your attitude which is rude and hostile will have a major effect. People don’t want to listen to people like you because you refuse to improve your communications skills.

              Now enough. If you can have a conversation like an adult – go and hassle someone else. Your next comment unless it is polite, will not be approved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge