Turkey, Culture

1,100-year-old Armenian church in Turkey to hold 9th holy mass

Medieval Akdamar Church in eastern Van province accepted into UNESCO tentative list in 2015

Mesut Varol   | 03.09.2021
1,100-year-old Armenian church in Turkey to hold 9th holy mass

VAN, Turkey 

The Akdamar Church in Turkey's eastern province of Van will host its ninth special mass on Sunday since reopening in 2010 after a hiatus of 95 years.

Previously attended in the hundreds before the novel coronavirus pandemic struck last year, participation in the annual mass will once again be subject to limitations as part of efforts to prevent infection.

A team of 25 people will perform the ritual, said Van Governor Mehmet Emin Bilmez, who added that Akdamar Island, near the southern shores of Lake Van, and the 1,100-year-old church built on it have become a major center of religious tourism.

"This church was built at a time when Islamic civilization was dominant and has been standing upright in these lands for about 1,000 years. This is the most beautiful indicator of Anatolian civilization," said Bilmez.

Akdamar Church, a medieval Armenian place of worship, was built between 915-921 A.D. by architect Bishop Manuel under the direction of King Gagik I Artsruni.

The church, which has a special place in East-West Christian art, carries the most important adornments and the most comprehensive wall reliefs of its time and was accepted on the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage on April 13, 2015.

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 2020, which saw a gathering of thousands of local and international tourists in Van.

*Writing by Seda Sevencan

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