Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin
These two Byzantine monasteries in the Tumanian region from the period of prosperity during the Kiurikian dynasty (10th to 13th century) were important centres of learning. Sanahin was renown for its school of illuminators and calligraphers. The two monastic complexes represent the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture, whose unique style developed from a blending of elements of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular architecture of the Caucasian region.
Haghpat Monastery was founded by Queen Khosrovanuysh, wife of the Bagratid king Ashot III, supposedly in 976. The nearby monastery at Sanahin was built around the same time.
The location of Haghpat Monastery was chosen so that it overlooks the Debed River in northern Armenia’s Lori region. It was built, not on a peak, but halfway up a hillside on a site chosen to afford protection and concealment from prying eyes and also in response to a kind of monastic humility. It is built on a verdant promontory located in the middle of a mountain cirque, which is often wreathed in clouds. A peak on the opposite side of the river is over 2,500 meters high. The monasteries of northern Armenia are not isolated, unlike their counterparts in the country’s arid regions. They were built in a village environment and Haghpat is surrounded by many hamlets.
Kayanaberd fortress was built in 1233 by the bishop of Aghpat. It is situated on the mid way from Sanahin to Aghpat and surrounded by impregnable canyons.
Sanahin Monastery is an Armenian monastery founded in the 10th century in the Lori Province of Armenia.
The name Sanahin literally translates from Armenian as “this one is older than that one”, presumably representing a claim to having an older monastery than the neighbouring Haghpat Monastery. The two villages and their monasteries are similar in many ways, and lie in plain view of each other on a dissected plateau formation, separated by a deep “crack” formed by a small river flowing into the Debed river.
Аn old medieval bridge of XI century which is located not far from Sanahin Monastery spans roaring Debed river. This picturesque construction is decorated by wild cats’ sculptures.
Odzun Church is an Armenian basilica constructed around the 5th-7th century in the Odzun village of the Lori Province of Armenia.
The first church appeared here in the 6th century. In the 8th century it was reconstructed by Hovhannes III Odznetsi who served as the katholikos between 717 and 728 and was, as his name suggests, from Odzun.
There is a funerary monument at unusual shape for Armenia. Its stepped platform supports two carved stelae between double arches. This is one of only two such funerary monuments in Armenia. The one located in Odzun was given as a gift to Armenia from an Indian King around the 8th century. The other one is situated in Aghudi in southern Armenian province of Syunik.
Akhtala also known as Pghindzavank is a 10th-century fortified Armenian Apostolic Church monastery located in the town of Akhtala in the marz of Lori, 185 kilometers (115 mi) north of Yerevan. The monastery is currently inactive. The fortress played a major role in protecting the north-western regions of Armenia (Gugark) and is among the most well preserved of all in modern Armenia. The main church at the compound is famous for its highly artistic frescoes, which cover the inside walls, the partitions, and the bearings of the building. The modern name of Akhtala was first recorded in a royal decree of 1438.
Horomayr Monastery is built on the cliffs 1 km south of the village of Odzun. To get to the site, the visitor may climb up from the highway along the Debed River, or hike south across the cliffs from the last switchback to Odzun. The fastest but hardest route is to climb down the cliff south of Odzun.
The monastery is built in part at the top of the cliff, in part halfway down. At the top, there is a three-chambered chapel. Below, the walls of the canyon form one of the four walls of the structures.
The bottom monument complexes of Horomayri are stretched in the same way as the main church of St. Virgin in the convent of Bardzrakash St. Gregory for the same reasons – highly constrained terrain.
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