From the history of the Armenian region of Adana

The Adana region has a significant place in Armenian history. Located in modern-day Turkey, it once hosted a flourishing Armenian population and served as the seat of the Armenian principality in the 10th century. Later, between the 11th and 14th centuries, Adana was part of the independent Armenian state of Cilicia and was home to a predominantly Armenian population.

However, the history of Armenians in Adana was marked by horrific events. By the 15th century, Adana fell to the Egyptian Mamluks and was occupied by the Turks by the 16th century. In the early 20th century, during the infamous Armenian genocide, over 30,000 Armenian civilians were massacred in 1909. In 1915, the male population was conscripted into the Turkish army, disarmed, and killed, while women, children, and the elderly were deported to Syria and subjected to horrific violence and inhumanity.

Following the atrocities, the French liberated Adana in 1916, and it briefly became the capital of the Armenian Republic of Cilicia under the French protectorate. Yet, with the withdrawal of French troops in 1921, Adana was once again occupied by Turkish troops, and the Armenians were displaced, becoming refugees in Syria, Lebanon, France, and Latin America. By 1923, there were no Armenians left in Cilicia.

Throughout the 20th century, the Turkish authorities actively populated Armenian Cilicia with Muslim populations (Turks, Kurds, Arabs, and Circassians), further erasing the Armenian heritage from the region. Today, Adana is a bustling city with nearly 2 million inhabitants, but the Armenian population is virtually nonexistent.

Modern Adana is divided into four urban districts: Karaisali (formerly known as Midella by Armenians), Sarychar, which hosts an American military base; Seichan, the most densely populated urban district; Chukorova; and Yuregir. Two large districts to the south of Adana – Yumurtylak (previously known as Hayas) and Karatash – are located on the Mediterranean Sea, while the mountainous territory to the north is home to the legendary city of Sis, the residence of the Cilician Catholicosate of the Armenian Apostolic Church for a millennium.

Despite the grim history and current situation, the Adana region holds historical and symbolic importance to Armenians. It’s a testament to the rich Armenian history and the resilience of the Armenian people, serving as a powerful reminder of their roots in Cilicia and the continuous fight for their rights, recognition, and justice.

Vigen Avetisyan

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