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Haghpat Monastery, Armenia

The monastery founding is traced to the reign of King Abbas Bagratuni (929-953), but construction of the oldest building of the complex started in 976 during the reign of King Ashot the Merciful (953-977). Construction of St. Nshan church was commissioned by Queen Khosrovanuish in honor of her sons Smbat and Gurgen (Kiurike) and was finished in 991. The church is considered to be a unique example of Armenian architecture, with new stylistic direction, that was further used in many buildings of that period. The legend tells that St. Nshan church was built by architect Trdat. Besides St. Nshan church the monastery consists of three small churches (St. Jgrashen, St. Grigor, St. Astvatsatsin), belfry, gallery and academy, book depository, Gavit of "Hamazasp", Ukanants family sepulcher and Sayat Nonva memorial. After the fall of the Bagratuni capital at Ani in 1064, the monastery went into decline, reviving again under the auspices of the Kiurikians and especially the Zakarians, who received the monastery as payment for military service to the Orbelian kings in Georgia, and who liberated the region from the Seljuks in the late XII century. The complex was largely completed by the mid of XIII century, having more than tripled in size and assuming position as one of Armenia's preeminent monasteries and centers of learning. The monastery was further decimated by the legions of Timur and then the Ottomans (XV-XVII centuries). In 1639 eastern Armenia became a part of Persia. The established peace was favorable for the monastery. Haghpat revived and resumed its mantle as a place of learning and as a manuscript center. Its most famous XVIII century resident was the courtier and troubadour Sayat Nova (1722-1795). Sayat Nova was among the defenders of Haghpat and died in 1795. Haghpat was placed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1996.


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