Clarifying distorted version of reports regarding Armenian churches in Van region


November 4th, 2017, 3:49 am #1

The following appeared on and several other Armenian websites.

Three Armenian churches on verge of full destruction in Turkey's Van

Three Armenian churches in Turkey's Van province are on the verge of full destruction, reports. Artsvaberd in the town of Ercis of Van, in particular, now has a lot of holes, the walls and khachkars have been destroyed, while the monastery itself has turned into a dump. Built in the 7-8th centuries, Artsvaberd was one of the greatest monasteries in the entire province and has suffered multiple attacks by Turks and Kurds. Also, the church of St Gevorg and the Surb Astvatsatsin monastery in the village of Artamet are on the brink of destruction due to attacks by treasure hunters and the local residents' negligence. Prior to the Genocide, 700 Armenians lived in the village, and a mosque was built near the St Gevorg church in thee 1990s.

I can find no report mentioning Artsvaberd on Some of the above story appears to be a garbled version of this: ... var-kaldi/

It mentions two Armenian churches, a village church within Dönemeç village and Angegh Vank monastery to the east of Dönemeç.

This July I walked past the new mosque the article mentions, but unfortunately did not notice the ruins of the church. It may be the same church I had noticed in passing on earlier years, inaccessible and surrounded by houses, though I seem to remember it being at Gölkaşı, the village immediately to the west of Dönemeç.

The recent damage at Angegh Vank is extensive - the upper sections of the east side of the twin chapels has been destroyed and the local Kurds have been hacking at any "treasure signs" they can find (votive crosses to those with intelligence). A ludicrously deep hole (at least as deep as the 5m depth mentioned in the article) has been dug a little beyond the NE corner of the twin chapels. Why that spot? Who knows - maybe there was a strange shaped boulder lying there, or a strange mark on the wall of the church which some Kurd adept at reading magical signs translated as "dig three meters northeast from here". Next to nothing is needed to initiate a hole-digging frenzy. Some of those aforementioned Kurds who happened to be lurking at the site during my visit pronounced with certainty that vast amounts of gold had been found at the bottom of this hole.