Armenian church holds holy mass after nearly century hiatus
A limited number of people were taken to the island by boat to attend the ceremony due to the ongoing pandemic.
High Priest Tatul Anusyan, secretary-general of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey and speaker of the Spiritual Committee, came to the island along with his clergy to conduct the ceremony in the church.
The high priest also chatted with the visitors there.
Van Governor Mehmet Emin Bilmez and other officials also attended the mass.
Akdamar Church, a medieval Armenian place of worship, was built between 915 and 921 by architect Bishop Manuel under the sponsorship of Gagik I Artsruni of the Kingdom of Vaspurakan.
After the 1915 incidents during World War I when the Armenian community in the area was relocated by the Ottoman authorities, the church located on an island in Lake Van was abandoned.
In the 1950s the badly vandalized church was on the brink of total destruction when Turkish novelist Yaşar Kemal galvanized the powers that be to stop that from happening.
The building’s restoration began in 2005 and it opened as a museum two years later after a comprehensive reconstruction carried out by the state at a cost of about $1.4 million.
The church, which has a special place in East-West Christian art, carries the most important adornments and the most comprehensive wall reliefs of its time and was accepted on the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage on April 13, 2015.
On Sept. 19, 2010, the Akdamar Church hosted its first service after a 95-year break.
The church opened its service every year for one day and the last service was conducted in 2020, which saw a gathering of thousands of local and international tourists in Van.