Akori Medieval Armenian Cemetery On Mount Ararat’s Foothills

At the foothills of Mount Ararat, in the outskirts of Yenidogan Village, there is a large Armenian cemetery. What makes this site unique is that it is the ONLY surviving medieval Armenian cemetery in Turkey.

What you’ll find in this article

  • Yenidogan (Akori) Village
  • A brief history of the settlement
  • Briefly about the cemetery
  • Pictures of the tombstones
  • Where is the cemetery?

During my 16-day-long road trip to the deepest lands of Eastern Turkey, I have been to countless places. Among all the sites I have visited, this medieval Armenian cemetery would go into my top 5. Let’s explore what gems are hidden in the forgotten lands!

Yenidogan (Akori) Village

Yenidogan Village is an old settlement, formerly known by the names Akori, Ahura, Axori, Akhuri, Ahora or Arguri. The village is located at the foothills of Mount Ararat (Agri Dagi in Turkish). In the eastern part of the village, there is a large Armenian graveyard with many intact tombstones and khachkars.

The cemetery and the village are located only a couple of kilometers from the Turkey – Armenia border. It is so close that after sunset, you can see the lights of Yerevan.

View of Yenidoğan Village and cloudy peak of Ararat (photo by Gurdeep Mattu)

A brief history of the settlement

The first time this village was mentioned in history is in notes of the 5th century Armenian historian Ghazar Parpetsi. So we can conclude that this area was settled in by ancient folks at least 1600 years ago.

A travel journal named “Journey to Ararat”, written by Baltic German explorer Friedrich Parrot in 1829, talks about the settlement in this manner:

“It contains about 175 families, with a well-built church, a pastor of its own, and a village elder or chief of respectable condition.”

Close-up photo of a khachkar half buried under the ground

Moreover, a few kilometers to the southwest of the village, there had been a large religious complex, Surp Hakob Monastery (also known as St. James Monastery). The monastery is presumed to have been built in the 4th century (some accounts say 341 AD). Surb Hakob Monastery is said to have contained important holy relics, one of which was a piece of wood supposedly from Noah’s Ark. During Friedrich Parrot’s expedition to the peak of Mount Ararat, the monastery was used as a base.

In 1840, a severe earthquake followed by landslide destroyed the village and monastery. The only survived remnant is the medieval Armenian cemetery.

The new Akori village was founded a mile or two to the south of the old one. Today, the area is inhabited by ethnic Kurds.

Briefly about the cemetery

There are close to 100 tombstones with cross carvings and Armenian inscriptions. However, most of them are in abject condition due to the raids by treasure hunters. There are no signboards nor information boards.

Unlike some of the areas close to the Turkey – Armenia border, this cemetery is not in a restricted military zone. You can visit this site anytime.

View of Yerevan (the place with lights on the horizon) from the cemetery (photo by Gurdeep Mattu)

Pictures of the tombtones

Many tombstones are half buried in the ground

Where is the cemetery?

The cemetery is located 65 km from central Igdir. There are two routes to the cemetery. You can take the Igdir-Nakhchivan Highway. Do NOT take the Igdir-Dogubeyazit Highway. Only way to go there is by car. There is no public transportation. The drive takes about an hour.

View of the cemetery and cloudy peak of Mount Ararat

The road going to the cemetery is asphalt and therefore, in good condition. Once you reach the cemetery, you can park your car on the side of the road comfortably. Just in case, I find is useful to tell you to beware of shepherd dogs. The coordinates of the cemetery are 39.774399, 44.387358

Check out my Eastern Turkey Vlogs @ArgunKonuk



Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

I am a travel & history enthusiast, sharing my travel experiences in different parts of the world!

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