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Avan Katoghike Church, Yerevan, Armenia

Avan Katoghike Church played a great role in the development of Early Medieval Armenian architecture. There is no accurate information in historical chronicles regarding to the date of construction and the name of the architect-constructor.

After the second division of Armenia in 591, Avan which was situated in the Byzantine part of the country, by the order of Emperor Maurice (ruled 582-602) became the residence of the rival-Catholicos Hovhan Bagarantsi. According to the VII century Armenian bishop and historian Sebeos, Katoghike and the ruined palaces nearby were erected by Hovhan Bagarantsi. There is no other data about the church. Toros Toramanian considered that the architectural decisions for the church have been dictated by the priests. In the Middle Ages priests acquired knowledge in architecture during their education. As far as there is no clear information about the construction of the church K.Ghafadaryan suggested that it was constructed before Catholicos Bagarantsi's accession in 591. Toramanian considered that the monument was constructed in the II half of the VI century because of the design features. The church belongs to the Armenian architectural type of central-domed structures. From the outside it is a rectangle stretched from the west to east. The outer rectangular and the inner cruciform design forms four rooms with rotund bases in the corners covered with domes. Nowadays the monastery is partly destroyed and it is impossible to fully understand the structure of the roof. Toramanyan believed that the roofless church once was a five-domed church which makes it more valuable and priceless for architecture history. As the church of Avan was constructed in the 80’s of the VI century it made the church the first central-domed church with five cupolas and is the origin of this type of churches. The plan with its complete composition didn’t have any predecessor. It is not known whether the architects followed the proportional rules or not, but during the research there were found many regularities, functional connections and dependencies, and also parts of buildings where the golden section was obviously applied. The historian Marutyan suggested that Avan’s church was dedicated to the Apostles as in the case of the five-domed church of the holy Apostles in Constantinople (536-550).

Subsequently it was renamed S. Hovhannes, but the locals call it Tsiranavor ("apricot-colored") .

The church was in ruins until it was partially restored in 1941. Further works were done in 1968.

By Ruzanna Mkrtchyan,


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