Akdamar Island in Gevaş district, known for its almond trees that bloom in spring, the blue skies and Lake Van in summer, and the pristine snow in winter, stands as one of the most visited historical sites in the region.
The island, home to a church built between 915-921 by Vaspurakan King I. Gagik, is a significant center for faith tourism.
To enhance the visitor experience, the Van Provincial Administration has initiated a project. With the approval of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the project, managed by the Van Investment Monitoring and Coordination Directorate, aims to improve the surroundings, walking paths, renew solar panels, upgrade lighting, and strengthen the wastewater treatment facility.
Upon completion, the island, accessible by a half-hour boat ride from Gevaş and Edremit districts, is expected to offer an even more captivating experience.
Van Museum Director, Erdal Acar, informed that nearly 150,000 domestic and foreign tourists visited the island in the past nine months. Highlighting the island’s significance, Acar said, “The island was included in the UNESCO World Temporary Heritage List in 2015. Since 2010, with the Ministry’s permission, a religious ceremony is held every September. It holds immense importance for both regional tourism and archaeology.”
Acar emphasized the need for environmental planning in such a heavily visited place. “The ongoing work includes renewing lighting around the church and walls, upgrading camera systems, revising and strengthening the wastewater treatment system, and increasing the capacity of solar energy panels fivefold. Walkways, wooden railings, and strengthening of two piers are also underway. Renovations will be made to the cafeteria and restrooms used by visitors. All these works are planned to be completed by the end of the year. With the project’s completion, Akdamar Island will be ready for the next tourism season,” Acar added.
Visitors to the island shared their admiration. Emrecan İpek from Istanbul said, “We’ve been touring around Lake Van for two days. I didn’t expect it to be this beautiful. The scenery is amazing, and with the ongoing environmental planning, it will become even more beautiful.” Yakup Kiyat, visiting for the first time, expressed his astonishment at the island’s beauty and appreciated the ongoing renovations. (AA)