Abrenk (Aprank) Vank Church

Abrenk (Aprank) Vank Church

Abrenk (Aprank in Armenian) Vank Church is one of the important historic buildings in Erzincan. The history of the Abrenk Church, one of the strongest Armenian monasteries in Anatolia, dates back to 1854 according to information on its inscription.

Although the Abrenk Church, also known as Monastery of Saint David of Abrank, dazzles with its architecture, it is expected to be protected due to neglect. The church is located on Mount Vank and is difficult reach due to deep snow in most of the months. The monastery's early history is unknown, but during the nineteenth century it was an episcopal center for the Tercan district (which contained 34 Armenian villages) and evidence suggests that most of its surviving buildings date to this period. Unfortunately, it appears that the monastery was abandoned at some point around 1915.

Abrenk (Aprank) Vank Church

The northern half of the walled enclosure were filled with buildings built next to it, while the south side was occupied by the monastery's principal church, Surp Hovhannes (Saint John) Church. The entrance to the church is on its west side, with a tympanum above with an inscribed stone panel. The panel has a date, 1854. Inscriptions and crosses are seen on this now-destroyed stone panel. The church was designed with a nave, two aisles and two apse. The majority of the stone used on the interior has been covered in plaster but large polished slabs were used for the flooring.

There is another small chapel in the neighborhood called The Chapel of Saint David that stands on a ridge to the south of the main enclosure. This rectangular church has a barrel vault internally and an arched roof externally. It is built with re-used masonry, and there are old sculptural fragments embedded into its walls. The inscription above its entrance tells that it was the burial place of an unknown “David” after whom the monastery was named.

Two khachkar stone near the Chapel of St. David are dated 1191 and 1194, standing 6 meters tall, and cut from a giant detached rock. Based off their niche, it seems as though there were originally 4, but only 2 remain today. A khachkar, also known as an Armenian cross-stone, is a carved memorial monument bearing a cross and often with additional motifs such as rosettes, interlaces, and botanical motifs. Khachkars are characteristic of Medieval Christian Armenian art. Khachkars, the way they represent meaning, and their symbolic craftsmanship have been added to UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010.