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Gndevank Monastery, Vayots Dzor, Armenia

Gndevank is situated in the canyon of the river Arpa in Vayots Dzor region, not far from Gndevaz village. The monastery was founded in X century by Syunik princess Sophia. It served as a cloister for hermits and was named after one of them Soupan Gndouni. The construction process was headed by a priest named Yeghishe who was also known as a painter.

The church of St. Stepanos built in 931-936 from trimmed basalt refers to the type of central domed cruciform constructions. Interior walls of the church were covered with frescoes. Only a fragment of the fresco depicting Christ survived through the centuries.

In 999 Abbot Christopher added a porch to the western wall of the church. The porch is one of the ancient among the constructions of this type preserved to our days.

In 1604 Gndevank was destroyed by the Persian Shah Abbas. Only in 1691 the monastery was rebuilt on Abbot Petros’s initiative. He built high walls around the monastery as well as dwelling rooms and utility structures. It’s supposed that the fresco of Virgin Mary painted on the wall of sacristy was created at that time. This fresco is a masterpiece of late Medieval Armenian fine art. The khachkars (cross-stones) and tombstones found in the territory of the monastery refer to X-XIV century.

Reconstruction works were held in the monastery from 1965 to 1970.

By Lilit Vanesyan,


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