x

Culture

Armenian Museum Reopens in Jerusalem’s Old City (Photos)

January 17, 2023

JERUSALEM — A hundred years after taking in scores of children whose parents were killed in the Armenian genocide, a 19th-century orphanage in Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter has reopened its doors as a museum documenting the community’s rich, if pained, history.

The Mardigian Museum showcases Armenian culture and tells of the community’s centuries-long connection to the holy city. At the same time, it is a memorial to around 1.5 million Armenians killed by the Ottoman Turks around World War I, in what many scholars consider the 20th century’s first genocide.

Turkey denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest.

Director Tzoghig Karakashian said the museum is meant to serve as “a passport for people to know about the Armenians” and to understand their part of Jerusalem’s history.

A visitor tours the Armenian Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

The museum reopened in late 2022 after a more than five-year renovation project. Before that, the building — originally a pilgrim guesthouse built in the 1850s — served as a monastery, an orphanage for children who survived the genocide, a seminary and ultimately a small museum and library.

Jerusalem is home to a community of around 6,000 Armenians, many of them descendants of people who fled the genocide. Many inhabit one of the historic Old City’s main quarters, a mostly enclosed compound abutting the 12th-century Armenian cathedral of St. James.

But the Armenians’ link to the holy city stretches back centuries, from monks and pilgrims during the late Roman Empire to Armenian queens of Crusader Jerusalem.

Tour guide Arek Kahkedjian gestures to a display on the Armenian genocide in the Armenian Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

The museum’s centerpiece, filling the sunlit courtyard, is an exquisite 5th or 6th century mosaic adorned with exotic birds and vines discovered in 1894 on the grounds of an ancient Armenian monastery complex. It bears an inscription in Armenian dedicated to “the memorial and salvation of all Armenians whose names the Lord knows.”

For decades, the mosaic remained in a small museum near the Old City’s Damascus Gate. In 2019, the Israeli Antiquities Authority and the Armenian Patriarchate undertook the laborious task of removing the mosaic floor and transporting it across town to the newly refurbished museum.

Visitors descend a staircase at the Armenian Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

From elaborately carved stone crosses known as “khachkars” to iconic painted tiles and priestly vestments, the museum showcases Armenian material art, while also excelling in telling the Armenian story of survival. While Jerusalem changed hands as empires rose and fell, the Armenians remained.

“Surviving means to not be seen,” said Arek Kahkedjian, a museum tour guide. “We survived without people knowing what or who we are, and today we feel ready to show you and teach about the history and heritage, about the culture, and to show you how we advance and modernize with the times.”

Restored mosaic tiles are displayed in the Armenian Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

RELATED

ATHENS – The Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum (ILJM) Jewelry Artist in Residence Program (JaIR) accepts applications throughout the year.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

New York Greek Independence Parade Honors 1821 and Grim Anniversary for Cyprus (Vid & Pics)

NEW YORK – The New York Greek Independence Parade on Fifth Avenue, commemorating the 203rd anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821, was held in an atmosphere of emotion and pride on April 14.

NEW YORK  — The historic hush money trial of Donald Trump got underway Monday with the arduous process of selecting a jury to hear the case charging the former president with falsifying business records in order to stifle stories about his sex life.

ATHENS - The New Democracy's ballot paper was presented at a special event at the Athens Auditorium on Monday.

JERUSALEM  — Israel’s military chief said Monday that his country will respond to Iran’s weekend attack, but he did not elaborate on when and how as world leaders urged Israel not to retaliate, trying to avoid a spiral of violence in the Middle East.

FRANKLIN, TN – After the amazing success of first two Annual Greek Adoptee Reunions in Nashville, TN, in August 2022 and in their homeland of Greece in October 2023, Greek-born adoptees are poised to converge on Louisville, KY, for the Third Annual Greek Adoptee Reunion, June 20-22.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.