The small town of Tercan lies half way between Erzincan and Erzurum and is situated in delightful upland scenery (see the first photo below for a view over the town). Because Tercan has a few monuments of its own, a visit of half a day, or even an overnight stay, is justified. However, Tercan’s most interesting survival from the past is Aprank, about 15 kms to the south-west. To reach Aprank you have to hire a taxi or undertake a long but scenically rewarding walk (if you walk, I am confident you will be offered a lift at least part of the way). As the photos below confirm, the trip is extremely worthwhile.
The ruins of Aprank comprise of two separate but interrelated parts. The main ruin is a monastic church once enclosed by a rectangular compound of high stone walls, substantial sections of which survive. The compound is on a sloping site adding to its interest and uniqueness. The second part of the site, on a rocky outcrop above the compound, consists of a small chapel with two remarkably tall and intricately carved khatchkars (Armenian for “stone crosses”).
During the 19th century, Aprank was called the Monastery of St. David. Aprank, the name by which the monastery is now known locally, derives from “aparank”, the Armenian word for “palace”. Before 1915, Aprank was also the name of a large village in the valley below the monastery. The village had about fifty Armenian households and a church. The village is now called Ucpinar. Ucpimar has shrunk in size and is now inhabited by Kurds.
N.B. Here is some useful background information for teachers (and, indeed, others) who may wish to use the post for educational purposes.
The monastery featured in the photos below belonged to the Armenian Apostolic Church, a church which in the old days used to be misleadingly called “monophysite”. The churches most often deemed “monophysite” (Christ has one nature, the divine) are the Armenian Apostolic, the Coptic, the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox churches. These churches are distinct from the “dyophysite/diaphysite” churches (the Protestant, the Roman Catholic and the “mainstream” Orthodox churches such as the Greek, the Russian and the Serbian Orthodox churches) which subscribe to the idea that Christ has two natures, the divine and the human.
However, the Armenian Apostolic, the Coptic, the Ethiopian Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox churches are better described as “miaphysite”. The “miaphysite” doctrine derives from Cyril of Alexandria who described Christ as being of one incarnate nature in whom both the divine and the human are united. While the prefix “mono” refers to a singular one, the prefix “mia” refers to a compound one.
The “dyophysite/diaphysite” concept of Jesus can be equated to a glass containing oil and water (the two natures, the divine and the human, are present in Jesus, but do not mix), while the “miaphysite” concept of Jesus can be equated to a glass containing wine and water (the two natures, the divine and the human, mix).