Akdamar Church in eastern Turkey attracts visitors

By Cemal Asan

VAN, Turkey (AA) – Akdamar Church, a medieval Armenian church, in Turkey's eastern Van province draws the interest of foreign and domestic visitors.

The church, located on Akdamar Island in Lake Van, was built between 915 and 921 A.D. by architect Bishop Manuel, under the supervision of Gagik I Ardzruni, an Armenian king.

It was accepted in the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage on April 13, 2015.

"Akdamar Church represents a unique accomplishment in Christian architecture, displaying for the first time sculpted imagery on the exterior of a church in such an elaborate profusion," according to the UNESCO website.

The church, which was opened as a monument museum in 2007, has been hosting annual international religious ceremonies organized by the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul once a year since 2010.

Muzaffer Aktug, Van provincial director of culture and tourism, told Anadolu Agency that the church deserved to be included in the permanent list of UNESCO.

"Around 83,000 people visited the island in the first seven months of this year," Aktug said.

He added that efforts were underway to get the church on UNESCO's World Heritage list.

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