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Historical Armenia

Northern Iran (Eastern Aterpatakan)

Between 1978 - 1989, LCO embarked on its first projects in the area.

One of the first sites on which the LCO established renovation projects were the Armenian monasteries and historical monuments located in the Eastern Vaspourakan region of historical Armenia, in the province of Salmas which is present day northwest Iran.

Three major edifices were undertaken for restoration.

  • 12th Century Sourp Thaddeus Monastery: Scaffolding was constructed to prevent further destruction by the elements and prevent the collapse of the roof.  Water irrigation systems were built for the surrounding land in order for the local residents to inhabit and maintain the area.  Restoration of the monastery walls.
  • Sourp Stepanos Monastery:  Scaffolding to prevent the collapse of the roof.
  • 13th Century Dzor Dzor/Sourp Asdvadzdzin Church:  With a dam being built in the area, the Church was in jeopardy of being flooded.  With the assistance of LCO funding and architectural and historical advisors, the structure was dismantled stone by stone and moved to higher grounds to be restored.

With the onset of activities belonging to the 1700th anniversary of Christianity in Armenia, various programs have been developed. Along these lines, in the summer of 2000, a major pilgrimage was organized by the LCO to return to those sites and remember the roots of the LCO by participating in the pilgrimage and restarting our campaigns in the region. The campaign was such an overwhelming success, that we resumed the campaign in Iran for 2001.

The Iranian Ministry of Culture and local Armenian groups continue small renovation projects. In 2008, all three sites, Sourp Thaddeus Monastery, Sourp Stepanos, and Dzor Dzor have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kessab (1986-present)

The Land and Culture Organization has held campaigns in the Kessab region since 1986. One of the few remnant picturesque Armenian villages left of Cilician Armenia, located just outside the present day boundaries of Turkey. Kessab borders the Mediterranean Sea and is one valley away from the famous Musa Dagh.  The city of Kessab swells in the summer season.

According to Syrian law, the government could repossess uncultivated land.  Armenian lands were in jeopardy and LCO began to cultivate the area for safekeeping.  In addition, Armenians continued to inhabitant ancient Armenian land.  LCO perceived the Armenian identity in Kessab being vulnerable and sought to preserve whatever Armenian structures it could.

LCO has worked primarily in the city of Kessab and its surrounding village of Kaladouran.  The objective is on maintaining the Armenian architectural integrity. The following projects were the focus of our campaigns.

  • Between 1986- 2006: LCO restoration of the traditional Armenian dwellings called the Ashkarian House and the Bedrossian House in Kessab, and the Baboudjian House in Kaladouran.
  • Between 1991-1992: LCO undertook the construction of an ethnographical museum in Kessab supported in part by the Gulbenkian Foundation.
  • Between 1986-1990: LCO completed an agricultural program in Kaladouran including the planting of fruit trees, vegetables, and irrigation system.
  • Between 1985-1988: LCO restored the Sourp Stepanos Church in the Kaladouran to serve the community.
Now these Armenian lands and structures have been restored and preserved demonstrating historical testimony to our Armenian legacy.  Through the restoration of these historical Armenian areas, awareness and interest has increased in the diaspora.   LCO continues to bring groups to visit the area and maintain these projects.
  • "There are experiences you shape and then there are experiences that shape you. The LCO Campaign of 2007 in the village of Azat offered me invaluable perceptions into the realities of my fellow Armenian brothers and sisters in a way only a true immersion program can. I urge everyone and anyone who might feel an inkling of belonging to this fascinating country, people, and history to sign up with the campaign immediately. I smile just thinking about what you have yet to experience."
    Noushig K, Azat 2007, CA, USA

  • "Coming back from a 4-day trip to Kharabagh really felt like coming back home, with our family waiting to greet us outside our house. That's when I realised just how attached we'd grown to the place, to our family, to the other volunteers"
    Anoosh Gasparian, Azat 2009, London UK

  • "I went to this trip with no expectations, and came back with a great appreciation for our country.  Life in the village is surreal, the food is beyond delicious and the people are incredibly nice. It was a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget!"  Sam Tahmasian, 2009, CA, USA
  • "LCO is an amazing concept. It introduced the deprived Diasporan to their land and their people. It is a wonderful introduction to Armenia and something every young man or woman should experience."
    Madlene Minassian Ispirian, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, Yerevan, Armenia

  • "My most memprable experience was being so warmly taken care by an old village couple, receiving gifts from them, giving them gifts and establishing bonds."
    Naira Der-Kiureghian, Ayroum 2003, CA, USA

  • "...I know that when I reflect back on this experience I will feel ecstatic about the work we accomplished, the things we saw, and the bonds we forged."
    Hovig Saghdejian, Ayroum 2003, California, USA

  • "Dolma is made with mum's careful instructions, grandmothers eyes found on the faces of children, songs of Ararat are as familiar as the Khachkars dotting the landscape. If it smells like home, looks like home then it must be home."
    Datevig Simonian, Shadvan 2004, California, USA

  • "LCO experience was a revelation for me. It gave me the opportunity to expand my horizons both personally and professionally. One of the most important experiences of my life and an important factor in determining my future goals."
    Lara Aharonian, August 1999, August 2001, Montreal, Canada.

  • "I formed strong bonds with my volunteers, and the difference in backgrounds was refreshing. It was interesting to hear the points of view of different Armenians from other areas of the Diaspora."
    Aramazt Kalaydjian, Shoushi 2003, NY, USA

  • "I loved the simplicity of life in the village, the fresh homemade food is wonderful; that people are the friendliest and most hospitable... the children have the most beautiful faces..."
    Sophia Balakian, Shadvan 2004, New York, USA