Perhaps, every stone is unique in Armenia. Many tourists come to Armenia for excellent cuisine, clean air, and a very warm welcome. We will tell about one more peculiarity of Armenia: famous Armenian churches.
The fact that Armenia adopted Christianity in 301 is a well-known fact. But did you know that Armenians began to build Christian churches and monasteries before the official adoption of Christianity? The earliest Armenian churches are dated to I century of our era.
We have compiled a short guide to the most famous Armenian churches so that you know how to prepare your route! We are known for our attentive attitude to the needs of each tourist.
1. Geghard Monastery (Geghardavank)
The monastery of Geghard was founded in the IV century on the site of a cave mountain spring. Some still call it Ayrivank (literally “Cave Monastery”). Once, the apostle Thaddeus brought to Armenia the famous Holy Lance (now kept in Echmiadzin), which pierced the body of Jesus Christ.
During its history, the monastery complex suffered more than one destruction and restoration: Arabs who came in the IX century tried to destroy it, numerous earthquakes destroyed the complex almost to its very foundation. Geghard is one of the largest complexes in Armenia, and possibly the most picturesque.
2. Saghmosavank Monastery
The monastery of Saghmosavank is located high in the mountains near the Kasakh river. There is a legend that Saghmosavank Monastery was founded by Gregory the Illuminator in the IV century. It is said that he prayed here under the light of the Heavenly Lampads. Sagmosavank Monastery complex includes a book depository built in 1255, St. Astvatsatsin’s church built in 1235 and a narthex (1250).
3. Haghartsin Monastery (Haghartsnavank)
Guides very often combine a visit to Armenian church Haghartsin with a stop in the city of Dilijan. Haghartsin is only 18 kilometers away from Dilijan, in the most picturesque Haghartsin gorge.
Haghartsin Monastery is considered a monument of Armenian medieval architecture. Haghartsin Monastery includes the church of St. Grigor. The main church of Haghartsnavank is Surb Asvatstsatsin (St. Virgin), it was built in 1281. In addition to the monastic buildings, there are several khachkars on the territory of the complex. According to archaeologists, the tomb of the Bagratuni family is located in the Haghartsin Monastery. This is evidenced by tombstones with the names of famous Armenian kings.
4. Sevanavank Monastery
Sevanavank Monastery is the main attraction of this region and is located on Lake Sevan. Sevanavank was built in 874, on the island. Not so long ago the lake became shallow and now you can easily walk to the monastery. Historians claim that the famous Ashot II Bagratid the Iron lived for some time in the Sevanavank Monastery. He won the battle with the Arab army under the walls of Sevanavank.
Around the XVII century, the monastery walls were destroyed, but several buildings that were part of the complex were well preserved: the Surb Arakelots and Surb Astvatsatsin churches. Some interior items and wooden details of these churches are now in the Yerevan Historical Museum.
5. Noravank Monastery
Road to Noravank Monastery runs into a narrow gorge, and from the platform of the monastery itself, the no less spectacular landscape opens onto red rocks. Noravank Monastery is located in the gorge of the Amaghu River, 144 kilometers from Yerevan. Its name translates from Old Armenian as “new monastery”.
There is a legend about the master Momik, who unconsciously fell in love with the prince’s daughter. The prince said that if the master alone would build the most beautiful monastery, he would give him her daughter as wife. Momik finished building even ahead of time, but a treacherous servant of the prince killed him, throwing him off the high bell tower.
Noravank was a major religious center of Armenia. It was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List at the end of the last century. You can look at the amazing finish of the church of St. Asvatstsatsin. Its facade is crowned with a narrow staircase leading to the second floor of the church. Any inquisitive tourist can climb up on it and enjoy the view from the bell tower. Also,Noravank Monastery complex includes the church of St. Karapet and the chapel of St. Grigor.
Khachkars, which are preserved in the territory of Noravank, are also interesting. The most famous and marvelous khachkar belongs to the works of master Momik.
Hope this article will help you when you will explore Armenia!