Armenian St. Bartholomew Monastery in Van again accessible to visitors

The Armenian St. Bartholomew Monastery, located in the village of Albayrak in Van province, is once again accessible to visitors, Today’s Zaman reports.

The monastery had been inaccessible to visitors for many years because military barracks had been built around it. However, according to a report by the Radikal daily on Tuesday, the barracks were recently moved outside the village as part of the settlement process, launched by the government in October of 2012 to resolve the country’s long-standing Kurdish problem.

The military barracks were moved to another location and as they no longer encompass the monastery, people can freely visit the site once again.

The monastery, which was built in the 13th or 14th century and was renovated circa 1650, 1760 and 1877, is located atop a mountain facing the ZapValley in Van’s Başkale district. Access to the monastery was forbidden 31 years ago by the Turkish military when the barracks were built there as a measure against  attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Having fallen into a state of disrepair, the roof has been completely destroyed, and if the monastery is not restored soon, the remaining walls risk crumbling. The structure as it is today has traces of 19th century architectural restoration.

According to Radikal, Van Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism head Muzaffer Aktuğ has said that the monastery is in poor condition after not having been restored in decades. He added that the Culture and Tourism Ministry recently launched a large-scale restoration project for the monastery and that the directorate is expending great efforts to restore the province’s historical monuments and open them to tourists.

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