First Traces of Christianity


Christianity carries with it traces from several other religions and belief systems. It earned its first traces from 3 Pagan gods: Mitra, Dionysos, and Attis. Interaction among these three mysterious cultures exercised a direct influence over this.

When we look at our history, the most important name in Christianity is accepted as Jesus, no doubt. Although he was born in Palestine, where Jewish beliefs were wide spread, he chose Christianity as his spiritual platform. Later, the foundations of this, which were evolving toward being a universal religion, were laid in Anatolia. The first sacred events in the realm of Christianity took place in Anatolia, and the people who spread the first traces of the religion were indeed Anatolians. Once becoming a universal belief, Christianity initially gained, in Anatolia, the label ‘’Christian.’’

Anatolia had hosted not only Christianity but also Judaism. The country governors of the settlement area where Jesus of Palestine was born were blessed with oil. This anointment called ‘’Maişa’’ meant ‘’Christian’’ in Greek. As people followed Jesus, who was known as a Pioneer Christian, the religion became known as “Christianity” in Hatay for the first time.

The Cradle of Christianity: Anatolia

Saint Paul church, Tarsus

Saint Paul Church (Tarsus Turkey)

  • İstanbul: As one of the most important religious institutes in the world, Orthodox Patriarchate was established in İstanbul. Located between two continents, Hagia Sophia has been protected through the ages because it had been the center of Christianity. Besides these, Fener Patriarchate is also one of the important places for it
  • Mersin: Saint Paulus, who wanted to spread Christianity and help it gain an international dimension, was born in Mersin (İçel). There are several religious structures there, such as the St. Paul Church, St. Paul Well, Olba Sanctuary Church, and Virgin Mary Church.
  • Bursa: In its history, the first consul of Christianity was held under the leadership of 318 reverends and Emperor in 325 C.E.
Saint Pierre Church in Antakya

Saint Pierre Church in Hatay.

  • Hatay: This place carries real importance for Christianity. According to traditional beliefs, the ‘’Christianity’’ label emerged for the first time in Hatay and the Matta Bible was written here.
  • İzmir (Ephesus): The house of Mother Mary, which is accepted as sacred by the Christians, sits here. It is thought that Mother Mary lived in this house for 101 years, and it is estimated to have been built in the 4th century C.E. When Christianity spread throughout the ages, a church was built in this area and the place was deemed sacred.
  • Cappadocia: There are many churches decorated with frescoes in Cappadocia, which is one of the most important natural and historical areas of our country. It is the site of over 200 churches and it was used heavily during historic period by the Christians.
Church of St. John the Baptist in Cavusin, Turkey.

Church of St. John the Baptist in Çavuşin, Turkey. Part of its facade collapsed in 1980, is one of the oldest churches in Cappadocia, and dates from the 5th century.

  • Isparta: Some of the churches of St. Paulus are here. In addition, Paulus came to this city and preached a sermon in the epic period when he was baptized.
  • Antalya: Known as Santa Claus, St. Nicholas lived and died in Demre. St. Nicholas Church is definitely a must-see place.

Among the other places which carried the first traces of Christianity are Mardin Deyr’ul Zaferan Monastery, Trabzon Sümela Monastery, Van Akdamar Island and Church.