Western Armenia

The Surp Hach (Saint Cross) church on the Akhtamar

(Ahtamar or Akdamar in Turkish) island on the Lake Van.

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Akhtamar island from the south.

To the left is the cruising boats pier.

View of the south-eastern part of the island.

View of the church south-east.

The bell-tower from the east.

View to the church from the east.

The chapel was added to north-eastern corner of the church XIV c.

You can see stony galleries on the pictures on the left. They had obviously been used for agricultural purposes, - gardening was one of the most important occupation of Armenian population, inhabiting the territory in the past. Modern inhabitants are rather reluctant planters. Viewers of the days past can often be heard telling of vast blooming Armenian gardens of Van and its outskirts; and these stories contrast sharply with today's state of things. Up to the present day on Akhtamar island there still exist remnants of monastery gardens as well as on Lim island (in turkish - Adir adasi).

View from the rocks that located on north-western part of the island.

Monastery ruins.

The church & zhamatun

from the west.

One more view of the church.

Apse of unknown chapel.

View of the island from the north-west.

Tiny island near to Akhtamar also keeps ruins of some unidentified constructions.

View to snowy Rshtunik mountains

from the Akhtamar rocks.


A Turkish Flag in the south-eastern part of the island shows that the territory is under the patronage of Turkish Ministry of Culture. Turks are trying to develop tourism in the region and Akhtamar is supposed to be one of the main places of interest in Van vilayet. During 2006 the government donated 1500000$ to fund the renovation of the Church.


Generally speaking restoration is quite a ambiguous subject. In my point of view it's better to preserve today's condition of memorials than try to restore their original appearance and the only person who definitely 100 per cent interested and contented by the necessity of restoration works is contractor. The problem of the restoration emerged due to Turkey's joining to the EC, and for Turkish government to restore memorials is to show its tolerance to other cultures.



Here's the link to the site devoted to restoration of the Akhtamar Church >>>>

All over the island, among the blooming gardens of Akhtamar there are dozens of khachkars. Like in Garmirak Monastery most of them are made of irregularly shaped rocks, and not many of khachkars made of tufa, they are shown on the pictures below.

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