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The Armenian church

  • Published at 03:57 pm August 26th, 2019

Heritage

The Armenian Church is a historically significant architectural monument situated in the Armanitola area of old Dhaka, Bangladesh. The church bears testimony to the existence of a significant Armenian community in the region in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Following the domination of their homeland by Persian powers of the time, Armenians were sent by their new rulers to the Bengal region for both political and economic reasons. Although the Armenian presence in South Asia is now insignificant, their presence in Dhaka dates back to the 17th century. Armenians came to Dhaka for business. In Dhaka, Armenian merchants traded in jute and leather, and profitability in these businesses convinced some to move permanently to Bangladesh. The area where they lived became known as Armanitola. 

In 1781, the now famous Armenian Church was built on Armenian Street in Armanitola, then a thriving business district. The site was an Armenian graveyard before the church was built, and the tombstones that have survived serve as a chronicle of Armenian life in the area. Agaminus Catachik, an Armenian, gave away the land to build the church. Michel Cerkess, Okotavata Setoor Sevorg, Aga Amnius, and Merkers Poges helped build the church. 

In the 50 years following the church's construction, a clock tower was erected on its western side. Allegedly, the clock could be heard four miles away, and people synchronized their watches with the sound of the tower's bell. The clock stopped in 1880, and an earthquake destroyed the tower in 1897. 

The church is 750 feet (230m) in length. It has four doors and 27 windows. The main floor is divided into three parts: a pulpit enclosed by railings, a middle section with two folding doors, and an area separated by a wooden fence for seating. There is a spiral staircase leading to the second floor of the church. There is a square tower on the church with a "shonkhonil" (special type of minar used in India to show respect) minar on the top of it. The aisle of the church is 14 feet wide. There are some beautiful paintings in the church, by the artist Charles Port. There is a room behind the pulpit used for baptism, with a three foot deep marble baptismal font. 

Source: Wikipedia