Lake Van is the largest lake in Historical Armenia and is notable for its four islands: Ktuts, Lim, Akhtamar, and Arter. This lake and its islands hold a significant place in Armenian history and culture, owing to the presence of several important Armenian churches and monasteries.
The map of Lake Van and its islands was compiled by Yeremia Kemurtchyan in 1691 in Constantinople. This rare artifact gives detailed depictions of the major churches on each island, along with brief descriptions of the sacred relics housed within them. The map also provides similar descriptions of monasteries and settlements throughout Armenia.
A particularly striking feature of this historical map is its attention to detail and its meticulous descriptions of the religious sites. It provides a window into Armenians’ spiritual and cultural life during the 17th century.
This map was discovered in the library of the University of Bologna in 1991 by the Armenologist Gabriela Ulokhodzhian, who subsequently published it. This discovery and publication allowed a wider audience to appreciate this piece of Armenian history.
Notable among the islands of Lake Van is Akhtamar Island, which is home to the medieval Armenian Church of the Holy Cross. This church, with its intricate stone reliefs depicting biblical scenes, is considered a masterpiece of medieval Armenian architecture. On the map, it is depicted with its main church and the shrines it houses, serving as a reminder of the rich historical and cultural heritage of the region.
These islands and their cultural and historical significance continue to be a topic of interest for historians, Armenologists, and those interested in Armenian culture. As such, the map compiled by Yeremia Kemurtchyan remains an invaluable resource.
by Vigen Avetisyan