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Rambler's Top100

SANAHIN-HAKHPAT
: Itineraries | : admin | 15.03.2007, 04:22

The ensemble of SANAHIN monuments is located on a small mountain plateau at a canyon of the river Debed at the altitude of 1000 meters above sea level. On the other side of a canyon there is town of Alaverdy. The road to Sanahin begins at the ancient stone bridge laid across the river Debed. Sanahin Bridge is outstanding both for engineering and art features. It was constructed in 1192. This is a one-span arched 18 meters long construction, situated at a distance of 12.5 meters from water surface. High quality of the irreproachably built masonry together with the strict calculation gave the bridge remarkable durability. It has been preserved up to now.
On the other bank of the river on a background of a mountain chain opens a fine panorama of monuments of monastery Sanahin which can be related to classical samples of architectural ensembles of Armenia. According to the evidence of historians the monastery was known long before the X century. In the X-UI centuries here already lived a few hundred monks. During this period Sanahin became one of the largest educational centers of Armenia. On the territory of the monastery the Academy operated in which outstanding scientists and educators of the Middle Ages were fostered. Much attention was paid to studying of humanities. It was mentioned that in the Armenian embassies sent abroad were advisers-scientists from Sanahin. In the XII century there was also a Medical school where human anatomy and physiology were studied.
The territory of a monastery is not big. But here, in the course of more than four centuries remarkable architectural monuments were erected by architects of different generations.
Church ASTVATSATSIN (TheVirgin) is the most ancient of the existing structures of a monastery. It was constructed in first half of the X century by fugitive monks. The building is made of basalt. Walls are smooth. Only the dome has some relief in the form of animal and human heads. The breadboard model of the building was cut on a stone in one of the corners of the church. The dome of church was finished in 1652. It was higher and is covered with a higher hip.
Church AMENAPRKICH which is the composite center of a complex, was constructed in 966 of grey basalt. It is the largest of Sananahin's monuments. By its type it is similar to church Astvatsatsin, differing from it only in sizes, a smooth masonry and some details. In the upper part of a facade the sculptural group is placed. The images of two kings in the full height are represented on it. Their faces were directed at each other, and they hold model of a temple in their hands. The descriptions of magnificent internal furnishing of the cathedral were preserved such as: rich church utensils of fine work, vestments of priests, embroidered with gold and silver. Under the dome of the cathedral the luster with 112 lamps of light orange color hung. In 1064, and then in 1104 the cathedral was plundered. And in the result of the earthquake of 1139 the church was almost completely destroyed.
Church AMENAPRKICH which is the composite center of a complex, was constructed in 966 of grey basalt. It is the largest of Sananahin's monuments. By its type it is similar to church Astvatsatsin, differing from it only in sizes, a smooth masonry and some details. In the upper part of a facade the sculptural group is placed. The images of two kings in the full height are represented on it. Their faces were directed at each other, and they hold model of a temple in their hands. The descriptions of magnificent internal furnishing of the cathedral were preserved such as: rich church utensils of fine work, vestments of priests, embroidered with gold and silver. Under the dome of the cathedral the luster with 112 lamps of light orange color hung. In 1064, and then in 1104 the cathedral was plundered. And in the result of the earthquake of 1139 the church was almost completely destroyed. The church of St.GRIGOR was constructed in 1061. It was round from outside and cruciform from within. In 1655 it was restored. In 1063 THE BOOK-DEPOSITORY was attached to the church. This unique structure was the largest medieval repository of manuscripts. The building of a book-depository represented square construction in which the powerful arches were resting on the graceful half columns, covered with amazing carvings. The high dome in the form of an octahedral with a traditional yerdik through which basic light penetrated into premises hip on the top of the arches. The Niches served as cases and were decorated by geometrical patterns and the structures cut out on the walls. The premise had only one window. Details of a rostrum are found near one of the walls. Here, probably, theological debates were held. To protect the premise of the library from wind, rain and snow a gallery was built along its southern wall where, probably, conversations of scientists with the pupils and visitors were held. The gallery served also as a tomb. In 1181 a vestibule was attached to the main temple. The four powerful collumns whose basic part consisted of flat spheres, prop up a number of big and small arches supporting a high dome of a pink stone. The capitals of the columns are decorated with the volumetric sculptural ornaments reminding fruits of a pomegranate and round wine jugs. In the corners of one of the capital columns there are sculptural images of lion heads. By its architecture the building is one of the best samples of constructions of this kind.
In 1211 from northern part of the annex the unique construction pre-annex was built. It connected both churches and Academy of the Master. Here six massive and stocky columns divide internal space of the premise into three parts, each of which is covered with the cylindrical arch. The western wall is replaced with the open arcade giving impressiveness to the facade of the construction.
The building of ACADEMY of the MASTER, constructed in the XI century, represents a gallery with powerful arches and the foundations covered with stone plates. The building occupies a space between churches Astvatsatsin and Amenaprkich. Here delivered his lectures the outstanding scientist of the Middle Ages - Grigor Magistros.
In the XIII century on the compound of the monastery a smart three-storey BELLTOWER was constructed topped with six-column rotunda in which bells hung . The ground floor of the building served as a monastic warehouse, the second was used as a praying chapel. In a spacious and light premise of the third floor, probably, copyists of manuscripts worked.
To the right of the gate of the monastery near fortifications there are recently excavated bath and refectory building.
Outside the monastery church St HARUTYUN (holy resurrection) stands. This is a tiny square building with two altars. In all likelihood the church served as chapel.
Church SURB KARAPET constructed in the XI century is also preserved. The interesting about construction is that the bottom part of walls is laid of dark green stones, and the top part of cleanly cut blocks of basalt. At a distance of 200-300 meters from the monastery in 1255 the building of spring was constructed. It is an original waterpipe - spring where water from seven streams gathered. Above it the two-arch stone hip with benches is stretched along the walls.
In the territory of the monastery there are lots of beautiful richly ornamented cross-stones which are unique samples of creations of masters - masons of medieval Armenia.
Near to Sanain there is another monument of medieval Armenia. It is the Haghpat monastic ensemble built in the X century. The ensemble lies on the high rocky plateau set among wood. Even now, converted into a museum Haghpat looks like a real small town with quite a number of church and civil constructions.
The ensemble was created gradually, during three centuries. The basic group of monuments is surrounded with fortifications. Monuments of Haghpat bear the big similarity to those of Sanahin. Their architectural details and the decor of constructions are so similar that it is possible to assume, that they are executed by masters of one school.
Right at the entrance there is a majestic BELLTOWER constructed in 1245. It is topped with a beautiful rotunda erected on seven columns. The bottom part of the building has the square form, and the second floor has the form of an octahedron.
The MAIN temple of Haghpat is similar to Sanahin`s Amenaprkich both by construction type, details, and time of creation. It was richly decorated with unique frescos, though, badly kept. Particular place among constructions of the complex occupies the annex, or Gavit of the main temple constructed in the XIII century. The ceiling of the premise is carried out by two pairs of powerful intersecting arches, and this system is applied here twice, one above another. The dome rests upon the same arches with a light aperture - yerdik.
Church St.NSHAN was constructed in the X century. It looked like a spacious dome hall. In 1257 an anex named House of Hamazasp was attached to it. This original structure is a unique monument. Here the system of intersecting arches is applied which is repeated twice, not lengthwise but in height is applied. None of the medieval buildings has such a long arch bays (13m), giving ease and lightness to all construction. The arches support the high dome embracing the entire width of the building. Of special interest is the composition installed on one of the facades on which two human figures facing each other and carrying the model of the church in their hands are shown. Though the sculptural group is as though cut into a smooth wall it is very plastic, almost three-dimensional.
Near the annex a gallery is constructed with many cross stones inside.
Next to these buildings there is a small chapel which consists of a spacious hall. The dome with a traditional yerdik rests on four powerful columns.
It is known that in Haghpat there was a very rich library. Here hand-written masterpieces were not only stored but also created. Sheets with the text were decorated by miniaturists with skilful ornaments. Books were completed with bindings which represented highly artistic products of jewellers and carvers on metal. A part of these manuscripts is stored in Matenadaran (State Repository of ancient manuscripts) but, unfortunately, many manuscripts are lost. There are assumptions that they are reliably hidden in the hiding places situated in surrounding woods.
The building of the library which is a small rectangular premise with the arch leaning on intersecting arches is preserved. Numerous niches on the walls served as book-cases.
There was a refectory on the territory of the monastery. The huge space of the premise is divided by columns into two parts. Each of the parts is blocked by the octahedral dome arch with traditional yerdik in the middle. Above the door of the refectory the relief cross is cut.
Both inside and outside of the monastic fencing there are many cross stones from the XI-XIII centuries covered with a thin carving and sculptural images. Special interest represents cross stone Amenaprkich, located in the gallery. It bears the sculptural image of a scene of the crucifixion.
Near the basic complex there is a spring of Haghpat monastery. Above it in 1258 a three-arch premise was built. Along walls were arranged stone benches. Nearby there is an open reservoir where the surplus of water was utilized for irrigation flows.
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