Saint Gregorythe Illuminator's Armenian Church in the Heart of Baku
The Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator is an Armenian Apostolic church located in the city center of the Azerbaijani capital – Baku.
The construction of the church began in 1863 and was completed in 1869. After 20 years, the bell tower of the church was built. This architectural monument of the 19th century was created at the expense of a local entrepreneur Javad Melikov.
Before the beginning of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the church served as the main place of prayer meetings for the Armenian community of Baku. As a result of the aggressive policy of Armenia towards Azerbaijan and the occupation of about 20% of its internationally recognized territories, the temple was closed.
However, as an architectural monument, the church was preserved. Moreover, it is periodically restored and is under state protection.
Currently, about 30,000 Armenians live in Azerbaijan. Despite the aggressive policy of Armenia towards the Azerbaijani people, the Armenians living in Azerbaijan have never been subjected to any type of discrimination and persecution.
In the early 90s as a result of an Armenian provocation, a fire broke out in the church, in consequence of which almost all the contents of the temple burned down. However, before this provocative act, the Armenians secretly took all the decorations of the church to Yerevan. The building was totally destroyed.
Azerbaijan, being a prominent example of multiculturalism all over the world, restored the Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator, destroyed by Armenians. Noteworthy that in 2001 the Armenian Church was included in the List of Historical and Cultural Monuments of Local Importance in Azerbaijan.
To this day, rare literature in Armenian is kept in the building of the Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator. In total, the library of the church has more than 5,000 ancient books. It is worth to mention that among the books in Armenian are the Bible of 1773 (which has no analogue even in Armenia itself) and the Gospel of 1899. Despite the barbaric attitude of the Armenian side towards the cultural and religious heritage and values of the Azerbaijani people, the Republic of Azerbaijan has preserved the religious books of Armenians.
In April 2010, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II visited the Armenian Church in Baku during their participation in the World Summit of Spiritual Leaders, held in Baku.
The Armenian church in Baku was also visited by Armenian journalists within the framework of joint visits of media representatives from Azerbaijan and Armenia.
The preservation of cultural and religious monuments of all folks, including Armenians, is a vivid example of the policy of multiculturalism and tolerance pursued by the Republic of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has been demonstrating such a policy model for centuries, unlike Armenia, which has been destroying the historical, cultural, and religious heritage of Azerbaijan for three decades. Multiculturalism is not only a successfully implemented state policy of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev but also a way of life for the entire Azerbaijani people. As the President notes: “From immemorial times, our people, having turned tolerance and respect for other religions and cultures into a lifestyle, have made a significant contribution to this process.” The President of the country has created all conditions for the peoples of multinational Azerbaijan to preserve their religious, cultural, and ethnic identity. The Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator in the center of Baku is a clear confirmation of this policy.