ANKARA: Historical Armenian church in Turkey holds second ceremony

WorldBulletin.net, Turkey
Sept 11 2011

Historical Armenian church inTurkey holds second ceremony

Akdamar Church had been opened to worshippers for a single day and
hosted a religious ceremony for the first time after 95 years in
September 2010.

A religious ceremony began at the Akdamar Church, located on Akdamar
island in Lake Van, on Sunday morning.

The ceremony is being led by Turkish Armenian Patriarchate’s
Archbishop Aram Atesyan.

Akdamar Church had been opened to worshippers for a single day and
hosted a religious ceremony for the first time after 95 years in
September 2010.

The church, which had attracted nearly 30,000 tourists until the end
of 2010, has received even more number of visitors during the first 7
months of the year, tourism officials told AA.

Officials said the number of tourists visiting the Akdamar Church was
expected to reach 60,000 until the end of 2011 as the church would
host another religious ceremony.

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

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.

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.

Upon a proposal by the Governor’s Office of Van and approval of the
Turkish Culture & Tourism Ministry, authorities later decided that
Akdamar Church shall host a religious worship once a year.

AA

From: Baghdasarian

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