ANKARA: Armenian church in east to be opened to worship for a day

Today’s Zaman, Turkey
Sept 17 2010

Armenian church in Turkey’s east to be opened to worship for a day

A historical Armenian church in an eastern Turkish province will be
opened to religious worship for a single day this weekend.

The Armenian church located on the Akdamar island in Lake Van in
Turkey’s Van province will be opened to worshippers for the first time
after 95 years on September 19.

Upon a proposal by the Governor’s Office of Van and approval of the
Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, Akdamar Church will host a
religious worship once a year and the first ritual will take place
this Sunday.

Guests to participate in the ceremony will arrive in Akdamar island
after a 20-minute journey from the GevaÃ?Â? pier.

Nearly 5,000 guests are expected to attend Sunday’s service, officials said.

As all the hotels and guesthouses in Van were booked prior to the
ceremony, 3,500 local residents prepared their houses for Armenian
guests, sources added.

The island of Akdamar in Lake Van in Eastern Anatolia is famous for
its Armenian church.

The Church of Akdamar was built by Architect Bishop Manuel between
915-921 A.D. under the supervision of King Gagik I.

The church remained as a part of a monastic complex until the
beginning of the 20th century, after which it was abandoned during
World War I due to the fights along the Russian border and it was left
in a bad condition for many years.

Turkish authorities restored the church between 2005-2007 and opened
it as a museum.

The name given to the island, Aght’amar, is explained by a well known
legend among local population: A nobleman who fell in love with a
beautiful girl named Tamar visited the island every night to see her.
As he was crossing the lake one stormy night, his boat capsized and
fighting the waves, he drowned uttering the words “Ach Tamar”. Tamar,
awaiting the arrival of her loved one, grieved deeply upon hearing the
news of his death and died soon after. Hence, the island was called
“Ach Tamar” (Aght’amar/Akdamar) ever since.

17 September 2010, Friday

From: A. Papazian

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