Bardzrakash St. Grigor Monastery, Dsegh, Armenia
Bardzrakash St. Grigor (Gregory the Illuminator) Monastery is located in Lori Province of Armenia, 2 km north-east from the village of Dsegh, a birthplace of prominent Armenian writer Hovhannes Toumanyan, in the wooded gorge of the River Dzakhidzor (Sakhudzor). The monastery (now partially destroyed) consists of two churches, a vestibule, chapels and cemetery of Mamikonian princes.
The northern church which is a vaulted hall was built in the 10th century. Surb Astvatsatsin (St. Virgin Mary) domed church is joining it from the south. It was built in 1221 by prince Sargis Mamikonian`s son – Marzpan. There are two-storey side chapels in the eastern part of the church. Surb Astvatsatsin church is notable for its unexpected architectural elements, one of which is a pentahedral altar. The church is rich of inscriptions of great historical importance. A four-columned vestibule built in 1259 is joining the church from the south.
St. Harutyun chapel was built in 1234 by Hovhannes Vardapet and his brother Sargis. In 1245 prince Aslanbek, the son of Marzpan Mamikonian, built two chapels and presented the Monastery with a Gospel incrusted with gold and pearls.
There is a cemetery with khachkars in the southern part of the Monastery, and ruins of monastic cells – in the western part of it. At the bottom of the gorge one can see fragments of the monastery bridge, which was built in the 13th century by prince Smbat Mamikonian`s son Hamlik and his wife Mamkan. Ruins of ancient oil press built in 1266 by Gevorg Vardapet can be found on the territory of the monastery.
All the buildings of the monastery are made of tufa stone, basalt and felsite (petrosilex). The monastery has white coloring because of which it was called “Chermak Vank” (Snowy monastery).
In the Middle Ages Bardzrakash St. Grigor Monastery was a spiritual and educational centre of Armenia. The representatives of Mamikonian princely family were getting education there.
The Monastery was partially restored in 1939. Excavations were conducted in 1969. Today the walls of the monastery are partially destroyed and bended caused by foundations soil movement.
By Natalia Ghukasyan, www.building.am