Gtchavank

Gtchavank Monastery of the 13th century (also referred to as Gtish, Ksish, Gtich, Gtavank) is placed in the Hadrut region of Artsakh, hidden among the dense forests of the northeastern slope of Mount Toghasar.

Gtchavank Monastery of the 13th century (also referred to as Gtish, Ksish, Gtich, Gtavank) is placed in the Hadrut region of Artsakh, hidden among the dense forests of the northeastern slope of Mount Toghasar.

They say that the first impression of what you see is the truest. It is fascinating how harmoniously Gtchavank fits into the encompassing landscape. Classical and verified proportions of the buildings and restrained forms of facade design complement and reinforce this impression.

Since ancient times, Gtchavank was one of the prominent monastery complexes throughout Armenia. The monastery was one of the political, spiritual and cultural centers of Armenia until the 20th century. Bishops sat here and gathered many prominent scribes, and it was here that various manuscripts were created, many of which have persevered to this day.

From the start of the 5th century, in historical sources, Gtchavank is referred to as the diocesan center. Following the end of the 8th century, together with the adjacent fortress, it was under the auspices of the Dizak branch of the Aranshahik dynasty. Ktish fortress, placed next to the monastery, in the 9th century was the residence of Melik Dizak Yesai Abu-Muse, and by the X century, became the center of the Dizak kingdom founded here. In the middle of the XIII century, the monastery extended with new buildings, and during the times of Dizak Meliks, specifically during the reign of Melik Yegan, attained the peak of development, becoming one of the essential monastery complexes throughout Armenia. Epigraphic inscriptions carved on the walls of the monastery, dating from the 13th-17th centuries, contain valuable information about the medieval history of the province.

The monastery was demolished during the period of Arab domination. As the inscription on the northern wall of the church testifies, the two bishops who arrived here from Amaras, the brothers Ter Sarkis and Ter Vrtanes, built the main church of Gtchavank on the grounds of old buildings. Construction began in 1241 and was completed in 1248.

Gtchavank is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Armenian architecture, along with the monasteries of Gandzasar and Dadivank. It consists of a central church with a narthex and a second church adjacent to the narthex from the north. The floor of the narthex is covered with tombstones of the priests of the monastery and the meliks, decorated with exquisite ornaments and inscriptions. Many khachkars (IX – XVII centuries), which are characterized by their incredible artistic bravery, were also preserved, one of which was exhibited in France as part of the “Year of Armenia in France” event.

 

Photo: Arevik Tsatryan