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2013-01-23 16:50:58 Views : 8699 |


Translated by: Aziz Emmanuel Zebari

The Sub-District Centre of Ankawa lies 4 km to the north of the governorate of Erbil. The history of this city is closely related to that of Erbil going back hundreds of years before Christ. The name of Ankawa is originally derived from Amko or Amka, which is the name of the gate of Erbil citadel facing Ankawa. It was later called Amkoawa until it was finally called Ankawa.

The city today is more like a remarkable piece of mosaic, lofty with its surroundings, legacy, and architecture. It houses many displaced families from Shaqlawa, Koysenjaq, Armota, Karemles, Mangesh, Dyana, Hawdyan, Elqush, and other places, who fled acts of terrorism against the Christian community. They now coexist with the original community of Ankawa.

As the town embraced Christianity in the early centuries of Christianity, and because it is part of the great diocese of Adiabene, it has numerous Christian monuments such as churches, monasteries, and shrines like the ancient church of Mar Gewargis, and the new church of Mar Yousif.

The church of Mar Gewargis lies in the northern part of the city. This church with an area of  30X15m is built of brick, gypsum, and stone. Its architecture is characterized by grand arches and pillars dominated by the ancient Roman architectural design. Each one of its 14 pillars is 1m in diameter. There are three temples in the church dedicated to holding the Holy Mass. The temple which lies in the middle is 7m high, while the other two are 5m. As it is an old monumental church, it has been renovated and reconstructed many times throughout its long history. In 1996, during its restoration, stones and tablets were found bearing significant inscriptions and dates confirming its antiquity. One such tablet says the church was renovated in 816 AD. Another one mentions the death of a priest in Amkawa in 927. There are also other tablets referring to later dates. There is also an extension annexed to the church which was built in 1805 bearing the name Mar Youhannan with  an area of 13X4,5 m.

The other church is the church of Mar Yousif, a beautiful an remarkable church in its design, spacious yard, and wide gardens. It lies at the entrance of Ankawa. It was built on a 1000 sqm area and consecrated in 1981. Towering above the church from its middle is a beautiful four-tier Ziggurat with an overall height of 18m.The church was lined from outside by limestone adding additional beauty to the building. There are also protrusions on each floor which give the church the shape of a fortress that takes viewers back to historical worlds of Babylon, Ur, Nineveh, and Aqar Quf.

There are numerous shrines in Ankawa which are visited by people for prayer and worship:

1.     The shrine of Mary locally known as Mariamana. It is a building of two domes built after the ancient Roman designs towered by two crosses. Lying 5 km to the south of the city, it is one of the most important holy places for the people of Ankawa. No historical information is available on the shrine. According to local tradition, it may perhaps be the remains of a church by the name of Mary, that belonged to a ruined village. In 1965, the shrine was like two adjoining cylindrical domes, but slightly separated from each other. It was renovated in the same year by the inhabitants adding some external changes by making the two domes round and open to each other. A few years ago the Higher Committee for Christian Affairs (HCCA) renovated and expanded the shrine lining it from outside with limestone with the exception of the two domes. Besides, two places were prepared for lighting candles to keep it clean. The floor of the shrine was covered with tiles while the two domes were embellished. Another important work the HCCA did was buying a large plot of land around the shrine which was surrounded by a fence. Many facilities were built in there. A water well was also dug along with planting trees. Gardens were made with a water fountain in the middle. The faithful visit the place many times throughout the year, especially during spring time and Mary’s holidays, such as her Assumption on every 15th of May.

2.     There are also other shrines in Ankawa such as Mar Elia Shrine which lies in the north of the city. The name is related to Elia Abdoka who, in fear of the campaign launched by Mohammad Pasha Rawandozi – nicknamed Mirakor, between (1831-1836), converted to Islam along with many other people from Ankawa. Upon his return to his faith in September 1831, he had an inscription written on his grave which read Sahdha Eliya (Martyr Elia).

3.     To the north of Ankawa is the shrine of Mart Shmoony. At the beginning there was a big rock in the middle of the site where people used to come for prayer and light candles. Later a small domed room was built of mud. In 1985, the room was demolished and replaced by a larger one built of brick and roofed using steel bars.  In the 80s, and through funds raised by the Christians in Ankawa and Erbil, a new temple was built after the Babylonian style  People in the area think that the shrine was originally the church of Mart Shmoony the Martyr, who, along with her seven sons, is commemorated on the first Tuesday of May. 

Achievements of Sarkis Aghajan

1.     Construction work

·        The Chaldean Patriarchal Summer Complex.

·        The church of Mar Youhanna the Babtist.

·        The kindergarten and Nunnery for the Sacred Heart Sisters.

·        A greenhouse-like room annexed to the Child House at the kindergarten.

·        Construction of the Convent of the Dominican Sisters.

·        Construction of the College of Babel for Philosophy and Theology and the Clerical School (seminary).

·        Construction of the Church of Mar Qardagh in Erbil

·        Construction of the Shrine of Mar Yousif

·        Construction of  the social club for the retired.

·        Purchasing a house for the Mandaean Sabaite community.

·        Purchasing a house for Jesus’ Little Sisters.   

Internet Services:

Ciber café s were also provided for the College of Babel, Seminary, Mar Gewargis Church in Shoresh, the Student Union, and the Diocese of Ankawa.

Vehicles and Furniture:

Vehicles of various types were purchased to all the above social educational, church, and religious institutions belonging to the Christian community in Ankawa. They were also provided with the required furniture and equipment.


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