St. Paul’s Church (in Turkish, Aziz Pavlus Kilisesi) is an Orthodox church in Tarsus, the Apostle Paul’s hometown. It is also known as St. Paul’s Museum (Aziz Pavlus Müzesi), as there is not an active congregation of people who meet in it regularly.
The New Testament (İncil) does not speak to whether or not Paul planted a church in his hometown, but we do see in the Acts of the Apostles 9 and 11 that Paul spent a significant amount of time in Tarsus after Jesus appeared to him and he was sent by the church to Tarsus. It is reported that there was a Roman styled church building in Tarsus by travelers there in the 18th century, but if there was then, there is nothing of that sort now.
The current building was built in 1862. The current church building serves as a museum, and in its gardens there are remains and examples of columns and Christian gravestones with Syriac writing. There is a wall surrounding the building and the garden, and there is a fee of 5₺ to enter.
The inside of the Church building is one large room, with a raised belfry above the back of the sanctuary, and an arched division in the front. The ceiling has a set of 5 frescos, Jesus in the middle, and the four gospel authors (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) surrounding him. Some are in better condition than others. Surrounding Jesus’ head, you will see the customary halo with the customary OΩN (Greek for “I Am” – see John 8:58 and Exodus 3:14 as to it’s importance). Jesus is also making the sign of blessing over the congregation. At the front of the sanctuary, above and beside the windows, there is a fresco of two angels holding banners with a Greek quote from Matthew 3:17 (Matta 3:17): “OΥTOS EΣTIN O ΥIOΣ MOΥ O AΓAPHTOΣ EN EΥΔOKΗΣA” – “This is My Son in whom I am well pleased.”
There is currently no local congregation that uses the church building regularly. Local protestant church congregations in Mersin, Tarsus, and Adana will have joint services in this building around Christmas and Easter, but they are usually for practicing Christians, not for spectators.
The church building can be found by following signs from Cleopatra’s Gate, or by following the map below.