On Akdamar Island

Van, in far eastern Turkey, is only a few miles from the Iranian border and the Armenian border, too. The lake here is the largest in Turkey. In 915, the Vaspurakan King, Gagik I, ordered that a cathedral be built on Akdamar Island, a few hundred yards from the shore of Lake Van. The church became a monastery in 1131, and has held a central position in Armenian Christianity ever since.

Like the Hagia Sofia, the Akdamar cathedral was converted into a museum. But in 2010, the government allowed Armenians to worship here on a church holy day, the second Sunday of September. Though the border between Armenia and Turkey is officially closed, a host of pilgrims came. Reports said there was no place to stand on the entire island. Some participated in the ceremony from boats anchored offshore.

 

 

On the path up to the pinnacle

On the path up to the pinnacle

Saint, antelope, grapes

Saint, antelope, grapes

The sculpture is carved on the stone, a flush level rests inside and fits perfectly with the flat wall.

The sculpture is carved on the stone, a flush level rests inside and fits perfectly with the flat wall.

Domestic life on the island

Domestic life on the island

Frieze over the main entrance

Frieze over the main entrance

Powerful Christ

Powerful Christ

Inside the church: Christ entering Jerusalem

Inside the church: Christ entering Jerusalem

Three killer saints

Three killer saints

Lion eating a deer. Is this allegory?

Lion eating a deer. Is this allegory?

Sly and hungry bear

Sly and hungry bear

St. Thomas kissed by an acrobatic lion

St. Thomas kissed by an acrobatic lion

George and his dragon

George and his dragon

Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve

Domestic woes: bears eating your wine grapes

Domestic woes: bears eating your wine grapes

David and Goliath

David and Goliath

David with his sling

David with his sling

The bell tower

The bell tower

Jonah, about to be ingested

Jonah, about to be ingested

Jonah, resting after escaping the whale

Jonah, resting after escaping the whale

The rock climb to get these shots is pretty steep

The rock climb to get these shots is pretty steep

And from around the bend

And from around the bend

Yet a further view

Yet a further view

It's a four leaf clover shape

It’s a four leaf clover shape

Yes, I know I've included several telephoto shots.

Yes, I know I’ve included several telephoto shots.

Also thriving on the island

Also thriving on the island

Armenian grave marker

Armenian grave marker

 

2 thoughts on “On Akdamar Island

  1. Jerry loved the photos, Peter! Another welcome uplift for him. He’s suffering from a recurrance of diarrhea and is avoiding all things rich. That includes Orestes’s travel prose just now–as well as much of the NY Times! I’ll wait till he progresses to more than 3 NYT stories in a row to share Orestes waxing.

    But oh, these Van photos make our mouths water. We both loved the Romanesque churches we saw in Spain, and the bas relief portraits at Akdamar are very much in the spirit of one on the Camino de campostela, alhough this church as a whole seems more heavily decorated on the exterior. Thanks ever so much for the climbing views, but esp for the bas reliefs!

    Love, Sid

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