was turkey a christian country before

Discovering Christianity’s History in Turkey: From Byzantine Empire to Modern-Day Presence

As a Christian, it’s important to understand the history of your faith around the world. Did you know that the region now known as Turkey played a significant role in the spread of Christianity? Before the rise of Islam, Turkey was indeed a Christian country.

was turkey a christian country before

In this article, we’ll take a brief look at the history of Turkey before the rise of Islam, the role of the Byzantine Empire in the spread of Christianity, and the transition from Christianity to Islam in Turkey. We’ll also explore the presence of Christianity in modern-day Turkey. So if you’re interested in learning more about the rich history of Christianity in this part of the world, keep reading!

A brief history of Turkey before the rise of Islam

Before the rise of Islam, Turkey was not a Christian country as we know it today. In fact, Christianity in Turkey can be traced all the way back to the first century AD when Saint Paul visited cities such as Antioch and Ephesus to spread his teachings.

During this time, Christianity was not yet an organized religion and its followers faced persecution from both Jewish and Roman authorities. However, with Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 312 AD, Christians gained more freedom and began building churches throughout Turkey.

The Byzantine Empire also played a significant role in shaping Christianity in Turkey during this time. The empire ruled over much of present-day Turkey for centuries after its formation in 324 AD until its fall at the hands of Ottoman Turks.

Throughout these years under Byzantine rule, Turkish Christians enjoyed relative peace but were eventually subjected to Islamic conquests that led them into decline.

Today’s modern day Republic of Turkey is predominantly Muslim with only a small minority identifying as Christian or other religions. Despite this shift away from their religious roots however many Turkish Christians still practice their faith openly without fear or persecution thanks largely due to secular policies put forth by founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

As we reflect on these early years before Islam took hold on Turkish soil it is important for us as Christian youth pastors to remember our shared history and learn from those who have gone before us so that we may continue spreading God’s message throughout all nations regardless of race or creed

Christianity in ancient Anatolia (modern-day Turkey)

Ancient Anatolia, now modern-day Turkey, was once a thriving center of Christianity. The region played a significant role in the spread of early Christianity and served as home to some of the most influential Christian figures.

One such figure was St. Paul who traveled extensively throughout Anatolia spreading the good news and establishing churches. It is believed that he wrote many of his letters to various communities within Anatolia, which are now part of the New Testament.

Christianity continued to flourish in this area for centuries with prominent centers at Antioch, Tarsus, and Ephesus. However, it wasn’t until Emperor Constantine’s conversion in 312 AD that Christianity became an accepted religion within the Roman Empire.

With this newfound acceptance came an influx of new converts and construction projects aimed at building grand churches throughout ancient Anatolian cities such as Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), Ankara (formerly Ancyra) among others.

Despite periods where Christians faced persecution under different empires over time like Seljuk Turks or Ottomans who would later rule on these lands renamed them to their own names; there were still pockets where they could practice their faith openly without fear or discrimination from those around them.

Overall Christians have made significant contributions not only culturally but also economically through trade routes across Asia Minor connecting Europe with East Asia thereby shaping both Eastern & Western civilizations along its path!

The role of the Byzantine Empire in the spread of Christianity

The Byzantine Empire played a crucial role in the spread of Christianity throughout the world. As one of the most powerful empires in history, it provided a strong foundation for Christian faith to flourish and gain prominence.

Turkey, which was once part of the Byzantine Empire, had been predominantly Christian before it became Islamic. The empire’s influence on Turkey cannot be understated as it served as an epicenter for Christianity during its peak. It was home to some of the most significant theologians and scholars who helped shape and expound upon Christian doctrine.

Byzantine art also contributed greatly to spreading Christianity’s message by depicting biblical scenes with great detail and symbolism that would inspire believers worldwide.

Moreover, their efforts extended beyond just their own borders – missionaries were sent out from Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) throughout Europe and Asia Minor carrying with them messages about Christ’s teachings.

The legacy left behind by this mighty empire continues to impact Christians around the globe today- we see its influence through beautiful works like Hagia Sophia or even through religious traditions still practiced within Eastern Orthodox Churches.


In conclusion, understanding how past civilizations have helped lay down foundations for modern-day beliefs can help us appreciate our collective history better while also providing insights into current issues facing society at large.

The transition from Christianity to Islam in Turkey

Turkey has a rich religious history that dates back to the time of the early Christian church. In fact, Turkey was one of the earliest regions where Christianity spread after its inception in Jerusalem.

However, over time, Turkey underwent a significant transition from Christianity to Islam. This shift was mainly due to political and cultural factors rather than religious ones.

During the Ottoman Empire’s rule in Turkey (1299-1922), Islam became more prevalent as it was seen as a unifying factor for Turkish identity. As a result, many Christians were forced to convert or face persecution and exile.

Today, only around 0.2% of Turkey’s population is Christian. Despite this small number, there are still active Christian communities throughout the country who continue their faith tradition despite facing challenges such as discrimination and limited access to resources like churches and Bible study groups.

As Christians around the world seek to learn about different cultures’ histories with their faith traditions, it is essential not only to understand how Christianity came into existence but also how various nations have interacted with it over time – including transitions like those experienced by Turkey.

It is important for us as young Christians today not only realize our responsibility towards upholding our own beliefs but also respect other religions without any prejudice or biasness towards them; because at its core every religion teaches compassion towards humanity which we should strive together regardless of our beliefs!

The presence of Christianity in modern-day Turkey

Turkey has a rich history of Christianity, dating all the way back to the early days of the faith. In fact, many of the most important events in Christian history took place in modern-day Turkey.

However, over time, Turkey’s population became predominantly Muslim and Christianity began to decline. Today, only a small percentage of Turks identify as Christians.

Despite this shift away from Christianity, there are still many signs of its presence in modern-day Turkey. For example, some ancient churches have been preserved and turned into museums or tourist attractions.

Additionally, there are still active Christian communities throughout Turkey. These groups may face challenges due to their minority status but they continue to practice their faith with dedication and perseverance.

As Christians around the world learn about these communities and their struggles for religious freedom in an increasingly secularized society like Turkey’s,, we can gain a deeper appreciation for our own religious freedoms and be inspired by their resilience amidst adversity.

As youth pastors seeking to educate our students on global Christian culture,, it is important that we not overlook countries like Turkey that may not be as well-known for their Christian heritage but nonetheless play an important role in shaping our understanding of what it means to be followers of Christ today.


Turkey is a country steeped in both Christian and Islamic history. Although Christianity has decreased in prevalence over the past centuries, its presence today can still be seen across Anatolia and within the hearts of many Turkish people. Taking into account this brief glimpse at Turkey’s storied religious heritage, it’s evident that Christians have maintained an impact on the culture even after its transition to Islam. For those looking to further explore this unique blend of faith traditions, we’d encourage you to join our newsletter for resources aimed at Christan youth pastors!