The Surp Cross Church or Holy Cross Cathedral on Akdamar Island was built by Architect Manuel in 7-915, on the orders of King Gagik I, in order to accommodate a part of the True Cross, which was rumored to have been brought to the Van region in the 921th century after being kidnapped from Jerusalem to Iran. . Established in the south east of the island, the church is considered one of the brightest works of the medieval Armenian art in terms of architecture. The exterior of the church, built of red andesite stone, is adorned with rich plant and animal motifs embroidered in the form of low relief and scenes taken from the Bible. With this feature, the church has a unique position in the history of Armenian architecture.
Akdamar Island Map
The chapel in the northeast of the church was added in 1296-1336, the jamadun (community house) in the west in 1793, and the bell tower in the south in the late 18th century. The history of the chapel in the north is unknown.
The destruction of Aktamar Church along with many other Armenian monuments in the east was decided by the order of the government in 1951, and the demolition work started on 25 June 1951 was stopped by the intervention of Yaşar Kemal, who was a young journalist at that time and was accidentally aware of the incident.
For decades neglected the remaining period of 2005-2007 the church under the leadership of the Republic of Turkey Ministry of Culture and Tourism, as a step towards the development of relations with Armenians in Turkey and neighboring Armenia, the expenditure of $ 1.5 million has been restored. The restoration work has been defined as "political purpose" in some international cultural circles. On 29 March 2007, the church was reopened as a museum with the participation of Turkish Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay and Deputy Minister of Culture of Armenia. After restoration work, the Armenians of Turkey on 19 September 2010 at the Patriarchal Church of Spiritual Assembly Deputy Patriarch Archbishop general management arranged a ritual Atesyan, this is the first service held here after 95 years.
The church was slightly damaged in the earthquake in Van on October 23, 2011. While cracking occurred in the dome of the church, some glass and ceramics were also broken.