ALEPPO, Syria (AFP) — Armenians in Syria’s war-torn Aleppo packed their Forty Martyrs Cathedral Saturday, March 30, for the first mass in the centuries-old church since its restoration began more than a year ago.
Established in the 14th century, it is among the oldest active Armenian churches in Aleppo, a northern Syrian city battered by four years of fighting between rebels and government forces.
After rebels first overran the city in mid-2012, its Christian quarter, housing the church, became one of the city’s most notorious front lines.
In April 2015, parts of the church’s walls, its courtyards, and its entrance were damaged during shelling.
However, it has been gradually restored since Damascus reasserted its control over Syria’s second city in 2016.
State news agency SANA says the main entrance, the facade of the church, its bell tower and its courtyards have been renovated over the past year.