This small islet is reached by boat from the port of Gevaş, and the voyage takes about a half an hour. The mpst remarkable of the points of interest on Akhtamar is the Armenian church found roughly four kilometers from the bank. This structure, knows as the Akhtamar Church of the Holy Cross, was built in the 10th century. It was done with a shining cupola ond is a work of charm and finesse, The interior Is decorated with frescoes also doting from the 10th century and in an excellent style, but its originality lies in the admirable reliefs which decorate the outside walls. These are treated in the monumental fashion, representing scenes from the Old Testament of the Bible, They alternate animal figures, medallion portraits of saints, animals In high relief, while a vegetation frieze interlaces scenes of rural life. Outside the church are some of the monastic buildings where In the 10th century the patriarchs of the Armenian church resided.
Akdamar Island – Akdamar Adası, also known as Aghtamar or Akhtamar, is the second by size of four islands in Lake Van in the south of Eastern Anatolia Region, Turkey, about 0.7 km2 in size, situated about 3 km from the shoreline. At the western end of the island a hard, grey, limestone cliff rises 80 m above the lake’s level (1,912 m above sea level). The island declines to the east to a level site where a spring provides ample water. It is home to a tenth century Armenian Cathedral church, known as the Cathedral Church of the Holy Cross (915-921), and was the seat of an Armenian Catholicos from 1116 to 1895.
The church was built of the local brown sandstone, and its plan Is cruciform, with a huge twelve-sides, cone-topped drum to cover the central area. The south porch was added to the structure in the 18th century. The paintings on the walls which were once covered over with plaster by the Ottoman Turks, whose religion discouraged the human form in works of art, have suffered for It. Among the frescoes are scenes from the life of Christ, the flight Into Egypt, the slaughter of the Innocents, with a black sword raised over an Infant, Christ washing the feet of the disciples ond a line of apostles or saints around the altar end. Around the church can be seen fallen tombstones, and graves dating from the Seljuk Turkish period in Anatolia. The designa ore lovely with ‘their intricate’ floral and geometric patterns. The church and palace of Aghtamar island were built by the Armenian King Gagik, and the island was used for a short period as the capital of the Kingdom of Armenia.