Over 160,000 tourists visit Akdamar Island in 2019
Akdamar, also called peace and serenity, is a prominent destination in belief tourism with a medieval Armenian church and crystal-clear water of Lake Van surrounding the island with a natural landscape.
Muzaffer Aktuğ, provincial director of culture and tourism, told Anadolu Agency that there is a surge in number of visitors since 2018.
“Around 157,000 people visited the island in 2018, while the number has risen to around 162,000 people as of Aug. 31, 2019,” Aktuğ said.
He added there goal is to attract at least 200,000 visitors by the end of the year.
Bahar Ibrahimi, an Iranian tourist, said she and her family visit Akdamar every time they come to Turkey.
“We love the historical and natural beauties of Van,” she said, adding the people are very hospitable.
Mustafa Öz, a member of a 19-person tourist group, said they admired the historical structure of Akdamar Church.
“This is a magnificent place. I advise everyone to come and see it,” he said.
Akdamar Church was built between 915 and 921 A.D. by architect Bishop Manuel, under the supervision of Gagik I Ardzruni, an Armenian king.
It was accepted in the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage on April 13, 2015.
Turkey began a restoration project at the Akdamar Church in 2005.
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 2015, which saw a gathering of thousands of local and international tourists in Van.