Monastery Marathon

Haghpat Monastery

The sun was shining and we were exploring famous Armenian monasteries, starting with Haghpat and Sanahin, both UNESCO World Heritage. Later we visited Odzun, before we endend the day above the ruins of Horomajr. Each of them was fascinating in its own way.

The Haghpat Monastery, built in 977, had us standing there in awe. The word which came to our minds was “archaic”, as we were admiring the size and architecture of this monastery.

Gavit @ Haghpat

Something which is only found in Medieval Armenian churches is the gavit, a kind of atrium to the west in front of the entrance to the church. It served as mausoleum and assembly room. Haghpat has 2 very impressive ones, one in front of the main church, and one next to it, in front of a small chapel.

Dome of the gavit
Column of the gavit
Bell tower @ Haghpat
Donor relief at the eastern facade of the church
Refectory @ Haghpat
Armenian cross-stones – khachkars

We are definitely now in the land of the khachkar, the Armenian cross-stone, a carved, memorial stele bearing a cross, and often with additional motifs such as rosettes, interlaces, and botanical motifs. They are characteristic of Medieval Christian Armenian art and you can find them everywhere. Every stone is different and beautifully elaborated.

Entrance to the gavit
Cathedral of Surb Nshan
 Fresco in the apse depicting Christ Pantocrator
Floor of the gavit covered with grave stones
Gavit in front of the church
Stunning column of the gavit
Alaverdi’s Soviet-time industry
GAZ-53 – produced from 1961 until 1993
Roadside gearbox change!
Sanahin monastery – built in 966
Gavit with three equal vessels, the floor covered with grave stones
Decoration around the door
Fantastic column of the library @ Sanahin

The library, built in 1063, was another very impressive building, all the columns had different designs and were amazing. The library was used for the manuscripts and other precious objects of the monastery.

Library @ Sanahin
Sanahin Monastery
Modern part of the cemetery
MIG fighter jet in honour of a son of the village

Artem Mikoyan – born in Sanahin in 1905, was the co-founder of the design bureau, which developed the MIG fighter jets, a monument and a museum honour him in his place of birth. His older brother Anastas Mikoyan was a very powerful figure of the Soviet regime.

Lunch break
Typical Armenian bus
Alaverdi-Sanahin bridge from 1195, crossing the Debed river
Debed valley
Oil tanks were used as houses after the earthquake of 1988, this might be one of them
Odzun Monastery, built of red tuff stone in the 7th century or even earlier

Next to the church, a horseshoe-shaped double arch, each one with a narrow stele in it, stands on a seven-step base. It is dated to the 6th century, a specialty of the early Christian art of Armenia. The steles are decorated with small relief fields in vertical narrative sequences, depicting biblical scenes and the Christianisation of Armenia.

Very high nave and dome @ Odzun
Parking at the Horomajr Monastery
Ruins of the Horomajr Monastery
Parking for the Night

We had actually enjoyed to visit all these monasteries, as each one was different but all very old and in a very original condition, which you don’t see very often. For the next day, there were some more monasteries planned, but we also found a castle, before we were on our way to Gyumri. More on our next post!

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