Van`s historic Akdamar Church welcomes faithful for annual service -
Van`s historic Akdamar Church welcomes faithful for annual service
The historic Armenian church on Lake Van's Akdamar Island welcomed the faithful from around the world for an annual service on Sunday.
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This was the 10th annual mass held at the medieval church since 2010, following its restoration and reopening as a museum in 2007.
The 85th Patriarch of the Armenians of Turkey, Sahak Mashalyan, led the ceremony that began at 11 a.m.
Earlier, hundreds of Christian faithful from across the globe arrived at the Akdamar Pier in Van's Gevaş district, some 45 kilometers from the city center, early in the morning.
From there they took a 20-minute boat ride to reach the scenic Akdamar Island and began preparations for the ritual.
The local authorities and security forces, including police and the coast guard, had tight security surrounding the event.[Christian faithful arrive amid tight security at the Akdamar Church, Van, Türkiye, Sept. 5, 2022. (AA Photo)]
[An aerial view of Armenian Church on Akdamar Island, Lake Van, Türkiye, Sept. 5, 2022. (AA Photo)]The Van Police Department assigned many police officers to the island while the coast guard patrolled the surrounding waters.
In addition, boats from the Civil Defense Directorate and the National Medical Rescue teams, as well as a Health Directorate air ambulance were also on call.
The Armenian church, also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Aghtamar and Surp Haç, was built between 915 and 921 by architect Bishop Manuel under the sponsorship of Gagik I Artsruni of the Kingdom of Vaspurakan.
It also served as a monastery before being closed for mass after the Russian invasion in 1915. It was eventually abandoned during World War I when the Armenian community in the area was relocated.
The Turkish government began a comprehensive restoration of the site in 2005 at the cost of about $1.4 million and it opened as a museum two years later.
The church is of great importance to the Armenians, who see visiting the site as a religious obligation.
It is currently open to visitors as a museum, while the Armenian Orthodox community is allowed to hold an annual religious service.
The church, located in the middle of the island, can be entered through the west and south. It carries various scenes from the Bible and the Torah on its walls, including Prophet Jonah being thrown into the sea, the Virgin Mary and Jesus in her arms, the expulsion of Prophet Adam and Eve from heaven, the struggle of Prophet David and King Goliath, etc.
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