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
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:
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
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
Chaldean Patriarchal Summer Complex.
church of Mar Youhanna the Babtist.
kindergarten and Nunnery for the Sacred Heart Sisters.
greenhouse-like room annexed to the Child House at the kindergarten.
of the Convent of the Dominican Sisters.
of the College of Babel for Philosophy and Theology and the Clerical School
of the Church of Mar Qardagh in Erbil
of the Shrine of Mar Yousif
of the social club for the retired.
a house for the Mandaean Sabaite community.
a house for Jesus’ Little Sisters.
Ciber café s were also provided for the College of Babel,
Seminary, Mar Gewargis Church in Shoresh, the Student Union, and the Diocese of
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