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Gtchavank Monastery, Togh, NKR (Armenia)

Gtchavank monastery (Gtich, Ktish) is situated on the slope of Mount Toghasar, not far from Togh village in Hadrut district of Nagorno-Karabakh (Myus Haband, historical province of Artsakh). The monastery is mentioned in the historical Medieval Chronicles. Historical records of Movses Kaghankatvatsi say that the representative of Gtchavank monastery participated in the Partav Council (early 8th century).

The flourishing of the monastery started from the beginning of the 13th century, when two brothers, Amaras Monastery bishops Ter-Sargis and Ter-Vrtanes rebuilt Gtchavank (1241-1248) destroyed during the Arab invasion. In melik Egan’s time (18th century) Gtchavank enlarged its territory and became one of the largest monastic complexes in Armenia.

Gtchavank monastery is an impressive illustration of the Armenian medieval architecture. The architects from Artsakh managed to combine achievements of the Armenian architectural schools of that time and local traditions. The monastic complex is composed of two churches and a porch. The main church built from trimmed petrosilex is right-angled outside and domical inside. There are two-storey chapels on both sides of the apse. Decoration of the church is modest without any decorative reliefs.

The porch which is older than a church is joined to it. In the Middle Ages it was used as a burial vault, so the floor is covered with gravestones of princes and priests. The porch is for shared use and connects the two churches. The second church built from rough basalt stones is one-nave hall. It was destroyed after 1868 earthquake. The khachkars (cross-stones, the oldest of which dates from the 9th century, and the newest – 19th century) placed in the walls are of great artistic value. Fragments of the defensive walls and dwelling rooms were found in the western part of the monastery. In 2007 reconstruction works started in the monastery, but sooner they were stopped.

Beginning from the 15th century Gtchavank monastery has played an important role in a spiritual, scientific and cultural life of Dizak (province in Artsakh) and Armenia as well. A unique collection of ancient manuscript was created and preserved there for centuries.

By Natalia Ghukasyan,


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