Number 88 | December 28, 2009
The Governor of Van in eastern Turkey, Munir Karaloglu, announced on December 24 that the historical church of Akdamar, located on a small island in Lake Van, will be opened to Armenian worship services in 2010. The Ministry of Culture of Turkey had renovated the church in 2006 and it was inaugurated as a museum in 2007 with the participation of Mesrob II, the Armenian Patriarch of Turkey. There are currently 55 active Armenian churches in Turkey, serving the Armenian Turkish community.
"We congratulate Turkey on the decision and regard this announcement in the spirit of the ongoing rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia, and, particularly, as a gesture of friendship toward Armenians worldwide," said Lincoln McCurdy, President of the Turkish Coalition of America. "We hope that many more Armenians will join the thousands of Armenians who have been visiting Turkey and experience the welcoming atmosphere there on their own," he added.
The Akdamar church was constructed by architect Bishop Manuel between 915-921 and is regarded as a leading example of Armenian architecture, particularly for its stone workmanship and reliefs.
In partnership with Georgia, Turkey is also renovating the millennia-old Georgian Osk Vank Church in Erzurum, eastern Turkey, which was designated a historical landmark by the Turkish authorities in 1985.