Interest tid bit this morning from PanArmenian news about the Armenian Cathedral of Mren, which according to the news outlet is being included in the World Monuments Fund’s (WMF) 2014 World Monuments Watch. Click here to view a complete list of 2014 sites.
The WMF is an organization that brings international attention to the threatened cultural heritage of sites around the world. Their watch listings provide an opportunity for sites and their nominators to “raise public awareness, foster local participation, advance innovation and collaboration, and demonstrative effective solutions” to preserve historic sites. Since 1996, WMF has labeled over 740 sites in 133 countries/territories as needing preservation.
According to PanArmenian news:
The Armenian the Cathedral of Mren, located in the isolated Kars region of Turkey, was built during the reign of Heraclius in 638 and is associated with the Prince of Armenia and Syria, Dawit’ Saharuni. It was constructed during the Byzantine-Persian wars and at the beginning of the Arab conquests, the cathedral represents a moment of creation and collaboration during a time of major destruction. Mren is representative of the churches built in medieval Armenia and Georgia. It is thought to be the largest preserved domed basilica from seventh-century Armenia, built with rubble masonry and decorated with interior frescoes and a ceramic tile roof. Over the centuries the cathedral changed hands, and additions and inscriptions were added to the structure. The settlement ceased to exist after the Turkmen invasions in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the cathedral has been abandoned and exposed to the elements for hundreds of years.
The structure is in desperate need of documentation and conservation, as its condition has deteriorated dramatically in recent years. Due to its isolated location with a militarized zone, access to the site requires permission from government authorities. The south façade has recently collapsed, threatening the structural integrity of the cathedral. Measures must taken to stabilize the entire structure if it is to be saved. It is hoped that the Watch will elicit a universal call to action to increase awareness about the site’s regional and global significance, as well as enhance the protection of the site and ensure that the monument will survive for future generations.
Click here to read more about the history and view pictures of the Cathedral of Mren.