The Turkish “Sehrivan” touched upon the issue of Armenian monuments in the province of Van – in particular, the Armenian Church of St. Bartholomew, noting that despite the coronavirus pandemic, Van remains one of the leading cities in terms of tourism.
On the eve of the annual liturgy scheduled for September 6 at the Armenian Church of Surb Khach on Akhtamar Island, “Sehrivan” also mentioned other pearls of the Armenian architecture of Van. The newspaper emphasizes that one of these treasures is the Church of St. Bartholomew in the village of Albayrak in the district of Başkale.
Abdullah Tunjdemir, president of the Lake Van Tourism Association (VAHATUDER – Van Gölü Havzası Turizm Dernei), told “Sehrivan” that “it is necessary to start the restoration of this structure as soon as possible. We want to attract tourists, but for this, we need to renovate the church first.
The road has been completed, but the restoration of the church has not yet begun. There are places in Turkey where the roads are not repaired, while the monuments are restored. Here, the picture is reversed.
15-20 years ago, this church aroused great interest among foreigners. We needed permission to visit the church. In difficult conditions, we went there, saw the church, and came back. But now, it’s easier to go and see it.
Other suitable conditions arose for the restoration of the church too.”
“Tourists want to visit Van for 12 months a year,” Tunjdemir told the reporter, “Christians in this community say they want to make pilgrimages here 12 months a year. This place is a constant stopover for foreign tourists.
The borders will open after the pandemic, and foreigners will start visiting this region.
After visiting Akhtamar Island, Tourists want to come precisely here. We must rebuild this church. The competent must do their duty in this matter. Sometimes, tourists want to visit this place more than the liturgy on Akhtamar Island.”
“Sehrivan” mentions countless monuments, such as the Church of St. Bartholomew in Van, that need to be restored. The source also reports that Van used to be densely populated by Armenians and that it used to be a regional center. Like with churches, there are many monuments that have been turned into stables or are in ruins.
Turkish media also report that the Armenian Church of St. Bartholomew and the chapel were built in the same year, around the 13th-14th centuries. But in reality, the foundation of this cross-dome church was laid in the 3rd century.