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Rambler's Top100

NORAVANK
: Itineraries | : admin | 15.03.2007, 05:23


The monastery of Noravank is among freakish steep red rocks on a ledge of twisting gorge. It was based in XII century in the place of ancient constructions. In the times of princes Obelyans reign the monastery became a large religious center, and in XIV century - a residence of bishops of Syunik.
The most ancient church of the monastery is the Church of St. KARAPET, reached to us in ruins, constructed in I-X centuries. In the north of it, the main temple of the monastery also carrying the same name was erected in 1216-1223. This is a cross winged-dome building with two-storey vestries in four corners. The temple has strict decorative furniture. A vestibule was attached to the western side of the church in 1233, otherwise called Gavit or Zhamatun gravely damaged following the earthquake of 1321 and subsequently (1333) restored by the famous architect Momik.

Over the restoration of the dome the yerdik (the illumination aperture in the center of the overlapping) was reconstructed. Tympanum windows above the door were decorated with unique images of the god - father, blessing the crucified Christ, and semicircular tympanum of the entrance door - the image of the Blessed Virgin with the baby and the faces of two Saints directed to her. Inside the vestibule deep niches with cross stones were constructed.In 1275 the Church St.GRIGOR was attached to the northern side of the main temple , which was burial vault of Prince Smbat Orbelyan. This is a modest rectangular construction. Walls on both sides of the altar were decorated with cross stones and images of doves.

Nearby, constructed by the same Momik in 1339, stands the two-storey Church of St. ASTVATSATSIN. It dates back to the times of the prince Burtele Orbelyan and therefore sometimes it is called Burtelashen. Its first semi-basement floor served as a tomb of the prince family of Orbelyans. Above the burial vault the crosswise chapel was erected. Decorative furniture of the church is modest in the lower part of the building and smarter in the upper part. The western facade of the building is especially rich in decorations. Two cantilever ladders were constructed there which lead to the second tier. The main ladders start from the left and the right of burial vault's entrance. Above the door of the ground floor was placed the bas-relief representing the St.Virgin with the baby- the Christ and archangels, and above the upper entrance - with the image of the Christ and figures of apostles Peter and Paul . The monument is notable for its harmonious proportions and exclusively refined furnishing.

In the territory of the monastery many cross stones are kept up. Among them the cross stone from 1308 created by Momik. Its entire surface is covered with a fine openwork carving. It is notable for the big cross above the shield -shaped rosette and the eight-pointed stars placed by the sides. In the upper part of the cross stone is the Christ in the frame of a vegetative ornament. A cross stone erected in1339 in honour of Momik the main architect of the monastery is also preserved in Noravank.

One of the cross stones created by the architect Momik was transported to Echmiadzin.
In VII-XVIII centuries the monastery was enclosed with fencing with adjacent constructions.
Behind the eastern side of the fencing can be seen the remnants of the chapel and one cross stone from the mid- XIII century. The latter has the mention of an inn.
In the early 1980-s the monastery was reconstructed and in 2005 itwas included in the Global Heritage List of UNESCO.
Not far from the monastery, in the river gorge, there is a belfry (matur) built up above a spring whose water is believed to be sacred and healing. In the Middle Ages it enjoyed great popularity and scores of people from abroad came here to store this miraculos water.

The rocks nearby Noravank hide numerous stalactite caves of striking beauty.

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