One of the areas of the world in which I've always wanted to tramp around is the area of eastern Anatolia around Lake Van, Turkey's largest lake and very close to the Iranian border. That area of Turkey has some spectacular archaeological remains, particularly of the Urartians, whose kingdom lasted from the thirteenth to sixth century BC. When their kingdom crumbled, they were succeeded by the Armenians, who were converted to Christianity by the apostles Bartholomew and Jude Thaddeus.
The "Great War" wasn't kind to Van, the largest city on Lake Van, or its inhabitants; many Armenians sided with the Russians against the Turks; the Russians completely destroyed Van; the Turks slaughtered an ungodly number of Armenians; the thousands of Turks held prisoner in Baku by the Russians and Armenians were also smote lest they be freed by the Turks.
In any event, in 915 AD an Armenian king chose to live on Aghdamar; the only building that remains of his palace complex is the Church of the Holy Cross, built in 915-921 AD. For almost 800 years, it served as the seat of the leader of the Armenian Church; everything came to a bloody end in the 1915. In November 2004 a Turkish newspaper reported that Turkish soldiers had recently been using the frescoes in the church for target practice, since then it has been renovated and turned in a museum.
Below are some pictures of Lake Van, Aghdamar Island, and the Church of the Holy Cross.
Lake Van on a nice day.
Aghdamar Island and Lake Van.
Inside the Church
Adam and Eve.
More images of the Church of the Holy Cross.