Akhtamar Church Set to Reopen for Mass on Sept. 9

Akhtamar-Mass (1)a
Crowds gathered at Akhtamar when it first reopened

Crowds gathered at Akhtamar when it first reopened

VAN—Four years after an annual religious service was cancelled, an iconic Armenian church on an island in Lake Van will host a mass next month with participation of Christians from around the world, reported the Daily Sabah newspaper.

The Holy Cross Church on Akhtamar Island in Lake Van in eastern Turkey, which is usually open to public as museum, will host its first international religious ceremony in four years.
The Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul is organizing the event, which is expected to attract hundreds of Christians from around Turkey and the world. Turkey Culture and Tourism Ministry and local authorities gave the green light for the event to held on Sept. 9.

According to the source, travel agencies and hotels in the Van province where the lake is located have seen a substantial increase in bookings while local businesses are counting on faith tourism dollars.

Added to the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage in 2015, the church was built between 915 and 921 A.D. by architect Bishop Manuel, under the supervision of Gagik I Artsruni, an Armenian king.

Believed to be constructed to house a piece of the “True Cross,” which was used in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the church was restored in 2005 and opened in 2007. The church has been hosting annual international religious ceremonies organized by the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul once a year since 2010.


Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.


  1. State of Emergency said:

    How did this go undetected by Erdogan? So, perhaps Turkey isn’t an absolute dictatorship after all??

  2. A.Napetian said:

    “Faith tourism dollars”?, to the Turkish government critically in need of those dollars?, the children of Ottomans, the denialist architects of the Genocide? and, from visiting children of the annihilated forefathers who lost this historical homeland specially this very pilgrimage place? Where the hell are you “Loving God”?. Amen