VAN (Anatolia News Agency)– Turkey will open the Holy Cross Church on the historic island of Akhtamar in the eastern city of Van for worship in 2010, the governor of the Eastern Province of Van said.
Munir Karaloglu, governor of the eastern province of Van– the cradle of Armenian civilization–said they would open the Akhtamar Church, to worship in September 2010.
The church was opened in 2007 as a museum after it was restored by the Turkish government between May 2005 and October 2006. The restoration cost $1.7 million.
Karalogu said he had contacted the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in order to open the church to worship and to invite the Armenian community.
Former Turkish Minister for Culture and Tourism Atilla Koc and then Armenian Deputy Minister of Culture Gagig Gyurjian, and Mesrob II, the patriarch of Turkish Armenians, participated in the inauguration ceremony on March 29, 2007.
The Akhtamar Church was constructed by Armenian architect Bishop Manuel between 915 and 921 A.D. under the supervision of King Gagik I, whose capital resided in Van.
Among the important pieces of Armenian architecture, the church draws attraction with its stone workmanship and the relief on its walls.