Festive gathering at the Feriköy Protestant Cemetery

Guests convene in the chapel.
A special event, that marked the five-year anniversary of the Feriköy Protestant Cemetery Initiative and its efforts for the Feriköy Protestant Cemetery.

About the event

On 15 December 2023, the Feriköy Protestant Cemetery Initiative held its second annual seasonal gathering at Istanbul’s Feriköy Protestant Cemetery. Besides celebrating the holidays, the event showcased the results of a major 2023 preservation project. Supervised by Initiative member The American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT), with funding from the US Mission to Türkiye as well as a private donor, the conservation work comprised shoring up, realigning, repairing, and cleaning twelve historic tombs in the cemetery’s US section. Several other achievements of 2023 were also celebrated, including the completion of a year-long study of the cemetery’s ecology supported by the British Institute at Ankara and the finalization of monument recording in the cemetery’s German section by interns from Orient-Institut Istanbul (OII).

Attended by members of foreign diplomatic missions and research centers, students and administrators from Istanbul’s Robert College (RC), and other guests, the event opened with speeches and a music program in the cemetery’s chapel, continued with a tour of the renovation area, and ended with a reception, which included the cutting of an “Initiative cake.”

Robert College also held a memorial ceremony beside four of the newly restored tombs that commemorate family members of the school's founder, Cyrus Hamlin. A new RC memorial plaque on the wall behind the tombs was also unveiled, along with a newly designed information panel for the cemetery's US section, which serves as a model for further informational signage in the cemetery’s other international sections. Prototype QR codes for two of the renovated monuments were also highlighted as a method for providing details about those that the tombs commemorate.

This event marked the five-year anniversary of the Initiative and its efforts for the Feriköy Protestant Cemetery. Among its many activities, the Initiative has mapped the cemetery; recorded and renovated its monuments; studied its ecology; publicized its history; catalogued and digitized its archive; and created new rules and procedures to improve its administration. “PCI”—professionalism in all its endeavors, cooperation among its members and with the cemetery’s governing board and the public, and involvement in all aspects of the site—is the hallmark of the Protestant Cemetery Initiative, both for the last half decade and for the future.

Please write to initiative@ferikoycemetery.org or further information about the Initiative, its work, and how to become involved.


Initiative member Richard Wittmann (Orient-Institut Istanbul (OII) Assistant Director) opens the event. 2023 president of the cemetery’s diplomatic governing board Kirsten Thompson (Consular Section Chief, US Consulate General, Istanbul) recounts her term in office. Audrey Wozniak (Harvard University, OII, ARIT) and independent musician Oktay Üst perform a selection of Christmas carols and Turkish winter-themed songs. Tour of the renovation area in the cemetery’s US section. Commemorative wreaths on the graves of the family of the founder of Robert College, Cyrus Hamlin, and a new RC memorial plaque on the wall behind. Five renovated American tombs: 1, front row (left); 2, middle row (center); 2, back row (center). US section information panel. QR code on a renovated tomb (foreground, scan the code on this page for information about the person it commemorates). Refreshment and conversation at the reception. Tomb conservation director Jan Gavrilof (Gavrilof & Gavrilof Architecture, Engineering, and Consulting Ltd.) and Initiative member and renovation project supervisor Brian Johnson (ARIT) cut the “Initative cake.”

QR code to scan.