Geghard – According to the information of Armenian historians as early as in the 4th c there already was a monastery called Ayrivank (the cave monastery) in this inaccessible corner of the Azat ravine. Later the monastery was renamed Geghard which meant “spear”. According to lore the monasterywas the depositary of one of the relics of the Armenian Apostolic church: the spear that one of the roman guards had used to pierce the rib of crucified Christ. The monastic complex was built in the 13th c and comprises the principal church Katoghike built in 1215 by the Zakarians princes and two tiers of churches carved inside the rock built at the end of the 13th c by prince Proshian who bought it from Zakarians and the living quarters with auxiliary structures.
The main attraction of Echmiadzin city is a monastery of St. Echmiadzin The cathedral is the oldest Christian church in Armenia. Its building began in the 4th c immediately upon the adoption of Christianity. According to a church legend, the site of the Cathedral was indicated to Gregory the Illuminator in a relevation. During the centuries that passed the Cathedral was rebuilt many times. The interior of the Cathedral was decorated by Hovnatanyans. In the 2nd half of the 19th can annex was attached to the Cathedral from the east, which housed the Museum of Echmiadzin. The museum premises eventually became to crammed for the numerous relics as well as gifts given by the believers from many countries of the world. In the 80s a special building was erected next to the residence of the Catholicos, named after the famous benefactor Alex Manoukian and his spouse. The museum preserves highly praised ritual utensils, crosses, staffs, jewellery, painting etc.
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The heathen temple of Garni is the only surviving monument of the Hellenistic period in Armenia. the temple is dedicated to the God of the sun Mithra and was built in the 2nd half of the 1st c A.D. during the reign of king Trdat I. The temple was collapsed during the earthquake of 1679. It was restored in the 1970s, using the surviving fragments and carving the missing ones anew. The temple is built of basalt stone. The walls of the shrine and the 24 columns of the portico rest on a podium. The facade and the rear have 6 columns each, while the flanks have 8 each. The portal has wide stairs leading up to it. The heathen temple is on the territory of the fortress of Garni. The territory of the fortress, that was used as the Summer residence of Armenian royalty, included the palace, the royal bath – house, the garrison barracks and other structures that did not survive.
Goshavank was founded on the right bank of the Getik river in 1188 by the famous Armenian scholar, jurist and fabulist M. Gosh. The Monastery includes the churches of St. Astvatsatsin, St. Grigor, St. G. Lousavorich, a scriptorium and a school of 13th c. Many beautiful khachkars have been presented in Goshavank. Historical sources make the existence of a university and seminary in this Monastery where many manuscripts were created and preserved.
Monastery of Haghartsin is 18km north of the town of Dilijan in the canyon of Hagartsin river. It is built in picturesque location, concealed in a forest. The Monastery was founded in the south when the St. Grigor church was built. The cross-formed church had sidescapels in all far corners and states out as a white spot against the background of the forest. The principal church is S. Astvatsatsin was built in 1281 by the domed hall pattern. Another church St. Stepanos was built in 1244. The main attraction of the monastery is the refectory that has two halls. The monastery is one of the leading cultural center of medieval Armenia.
Five kilometers towards Yerevan from Echmiadzin there are the ruins of Zvartnots.
The temple was built in the 7th c by Catholicos Nerses III Shinarar. The temple was collapsed from an earth-quake in the 10th c. The temple was a tree tiered central – domed structure that astounded with its magnificence. According to the opinion of European specialists the temple of Zvartnots may be ranked with greatest monuments of ancient architecture.
The monastery of Khor Virap is situated on the hill and is one of the sanctuaries of the Armenian Apostolic church and a pilgrimage site. According to church lore this is the location of the municipal jail of the capital of Armenia Artashat, where upon the orders of king Trdat III, they threw Gregory the Illuminator who was accused of professing Christianity. Gregory spent there 13 years.
In 642 Catholicos Nerses III built a chapel over the jail. The monastery also includes the church of St.Astvatsatsin built in the end of the 17th c, fragments of the wall that once surrounded the monastery, the refectory, the cells of the monks. A most magnificent view of mount Ararat opens from the hilltop of the monastery.
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Sevan is a beautiful lake, a pearl of Armenia. It is amongst the biggest mountain lakes of the world. (2000 m above sea level). There are many historical and architectural monuments in Sevan.
The monastery of Sevan (9th c). It is on the present day Sevan peninsula. The congregation settled on the island at the end of the 8th century and undertook the construction of a monastery. Three churches were built but only two of them have survived: the church of St.Arakelots and the church of St. Astvatsatsin. Both were built in 874 following the cross-shaped pattern.
Noradouz- it is a big cemetery and is widely known thanks to its great numbers of khachkars mostly of the 13th to 17th cc. Many of these khachkars are set on special foundations.
Among other monuments of Sevan the following should be noted: the monastery of Hayrivank (9-12th cc) on the shore of Sevan, the churches of St. Hovhannes, St. Karapet and St. Astvatsatsin (19th c).
The magnificent church of St. Hripsime was built in 618 by Catholicos Komitas on the site of the legendary martyrdom of virgin Hripsime that had fled to Armenia from Rome with her friends. The relics of St.Hripsime are contained in a tomb under the church .
The St. Hripsime church stands out by its stern and monumental forms, solemn and monolithic, in its rightfully considered one of the masterworks of Armenian architecture.