Virtual tour in millennia-old Akdamar Church
VAN – Demirören New Agency
Witnessing thousands of years of a church’s history that lies in Anatolia is now a click away. As part of its attempt to promote the unique Anatolian heritage to the world, the Turkish Presidency’s Directorate of Communications has prepared a website dedicated to the 1,100-year-old Akdamar Church, a medieval Armenian church in Turkey’s eastern Van province.
Located on Akdamar Island in Lake Van, the church was built between 915 A.D. and 921 A.D. by architect Bishop Manuel, under the supervision of Gagik I Artsruni, an Armenian king.
The website www.akdamarkilisesi.gov.tr, which provides comprehensive information and visual materials in three different languages, Turkish, English and Armenian, is now open to visitors, some who cannot physically go to the island, or those perhaps interested in seeing a masterpiece that has stood strong in their ancestral lands for centuries.
Efforts to bring together the cultural and historical monuments and museums with visitors in a digital environment gain importance in the world as well as in Turkey.
The website, which was created as a result of meticulous work with the help of technology, many natural and historical beauties are shown to people who don’t have the chance to see them physically.
VR videos and 360-degree photos prepared using advanced imaging technologies give visitors the feeling of closely seeing the unique harmony of history and nature.
The reliefs and frescoes of the church, the white flowers of the almond trees surrounding it, and the unique blue of Lake Van are some of the visual beauties that bring the divine atmosphere of this historical place to visitors. In addition, the unique nature of Akdamar is presented to visitors through the lens of famous photography artist İzzet Keribar.
Speaking about the project, the Presidency’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, said that they carried out various research and promotional activities in order to increase awareness about the rich cultural heritage that Turkey possesses.
In this context, Altun stated that they realized the first project for Akdamar Church, which is an important faith center of the Christian and Armenian people.
He said that thanks to the interest of the state and investments, both the island and the historic church became one of the most popular spots in Turkish tourism.
“Anatolia is a mosaic of different cultures and beliefs. The Armenian community is a part of this mosaic. We will continue to strengthen the bridge of friendship that we have established by living together for centuries and set an example for the world,” Altun said.
Keribar’s photos on view
As part of the project, the opening of an exhibition featuring the photos of Akdamar Church taken by Keribar was made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 23 at the Hagia Irene Church in Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Keribar said that he had been taking photos for 65 years and won many awards, and that the exhibition was one of the milestones of his professional life.
He said that he took some 1,000 photos in four days. “One day I got a call from Istanbul. ‘You are in Akdamar, we wonder if you can take pictures before sunrise?’ they said. We needed to be there at 4:30 a.m. We got there in the dark and I took the photos. Here you see 40-50 photos out of some 1,000.”
The exhibition will be open to visitors for the next 20 days. The website also displays Keribar’s Akdamar photos taken from 14 different spots.