Կեսարիա (Caesarea) | Historic Armenian Cities Campaign

Caesarea (Kayseri) is located in Cappadocia and is the capital of the Kayseri province currently in central Turkey. The city was named Caesarea in honour of Caesar Augustus, upon his death in 14 AD. When the Muslim Arabs arrived, they adapted the pronunciation to their writing resulting in Kaisariyah.

The city has an important place in Armenian religious history as well. In its heyday, it was Central Anatolia’s most important city. In 250 A.D., Kayseri had a population of 400,000; it was where St. Gregory the Illuminator grew up, was educated, and converted to Christianity. Caesarea came to be known the center of Byzantine Christianity following the death of Christ. It continued to be the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church until 1923. when by order of the Treaty of Lausanne all members of that Church (Greeks) were deported from what is now Turkey. Caesarea was also the seat of an Armenian diocese. No longer a residential bishopric, Caesarea in Cappadocia is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see of the Armenian Catholic Church and the Melkite Catholic Church.

Notable Armenians from Kayseri include the Gulbenkian family of Calouste Gulbenkian, the renowned oil magnate, Vahan Cardashian, the lifetime and lone crusader for the Armenian Cause who spearheaded in the success of blocking the US Senate’s consent of the American-Turkish treaty (which reaffirmed the validity of Western Armenia, allowing Armenians to have strong international and legal claim for Armenian land claims in Wilsonian Armenia), Khachatur Kesaratsi the Armenian archbishop and founder of the first printing press in Iran, and many others.

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