website of Jelle Verheij, historian


Holy Mother Mary Monastery, Tatvan, Bitlis province


This monastery is located in a small hamlet of Tatvan district, close to the shore of Lake Van, administratively belonging to the nearby village of Tokaçlı, and known in Turkish as Basalmalı or Paşaelmalı and in Armenian as Pashvants or Pashvadzk (various other variants of the name exist).

The building is described by Paolo Cuneo in his "Architettura Armenia". It is probably built in the 5th or 6th century, and is thus a stunning 1500 years old, dating from before the Arab incursions and much older than other churches in the area, including the Holy Cross Church on the Island of Aghtamar.

The church is in a reasonable state of preservation though considerably damaged by treasure hunters, who removed several ornamented stones from the building.

Reading suggestions

- Forumpost on "Armenian on web" *in Turkish)

- article in Armenian daily Agos (2013) (in Turkish)

all photos by Jelle Verheij 2011, 2012  - all rights reserved