Authorities in eastern Turkey's Erzurum have decided to restore a 10th-century Georgian church, one of the very few that have survived in the region.
The Öşvank (Oshk Vank) church, located in Erzurum's Uzundere district, was part of a monastery and an important religious center for the area's Christian community during the rule of a Georgian dynasty.
Even though it lay abandoned for centuries the structure is still in good condition. Now, the Culture and Tourism Ministry has launched a project to restore the church to its former glory.
With its ornate architecture and inscriptions, the church is a popular attraction for local tourists as well as tourists from neighboring Georgia. A wooden pillar that replaced a marble column is among the reinforcements that prevent the century-old structure from collapsing.
Uzundere Mayor Halis Özsoy says the church served as a religious center for Georgians and was a hub of religious education for Christians.
"The structure has weakened over centuries. Experts will first examine which parts of the building need restoring and work on a digital model before any actual restoration takes place," Özsoy said.
The church is made of stones extracted from a nearby stone quarry that still stands although not used. "We found out the exact location of the quarry, and stones will be extracted again for the restoration work," Özsoy said.
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