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Armenia: Churches Fast Collapsing in World’s First Christian Country

The Armenian government helped restore the Holy Cross Church on Akdamar Island in Turkey, but many cathedrals at home remain crumbling. (Photo: Yigal Schleifer)

Armenian officials tend to be quick to voice concern over the destruction or deterioration of Armenian churches and monasteries in neighboring Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey. But conservationists complain that the same officials who sound the alarm about sites abroad, often are reticent about preservationist challenges within Armenia itself.

Experts claim that almost 50 percent of the 24,000 religious monuments in Armenia are in urgent need of repair, and that around 30 percent are on the verge of collapse.

For many, Armenia’s status as the first country in the world to accept Christianity as a state religion (in 301 AD) means that the dilapidated state of religious monuments is a blow to national pride. “Who among our officials has seen the state of the churches in our country?” said historian Rafael Tadevosian, a member of a public commission on the conservation of historical-national values and monuments.

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Gayane Abrahamyan is a reporter for ArmeniaNow.com in Yerevan.

Armenia: Churches Fast Collapsing in World’s First Christian Country

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