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Hakobavank Monastery, Kolatak, NKR (Armenia)

Hakobavank monastery, (also called Metsaranits - St. Jacobs Monastery) is located in the Martakert region of Nagorno-Karabakh in 1.5 km. from the village of Kolatak (historical Mets Hayk, province of Metsarank, later on renamed into Lower Khachen ). There is no information about the date when the monastery was found. The most ancient inscription carved on the pedestal of khachkar (cross-stone) refers to 853. According to the historical chronicles the monastic structures including the churches, were built, rebuilt and reconstructed periodically in IX-XVIII centuries. One of the manuscript kept in Matenadaran (Institute of ancient manuscripts in Yerevan) says that Metsaranits church was rebuilt by Khorinshah princess, Hasan-Jalal`s mother and sister of Ivaneh and Zakareh Zakarian brothers (XIIIc.).

In the Middle centuries Hakobavank was a Christian pilgrimage place. In the 12th century the monastery from being an eparchial centre became a Catholicos` residence.

The monastic complex consists of two churches, two vestibules and a number of dwelling and utility structures, surrounded by a defensive wall. Almost all constructions are connected through passages.

The first church of the monastery is a rectangular single-nave hall. The altar is higher than usual, because the eastern cell is just beneath it. A three-arched vestibule-hall sides the church from the west, so that the western facade of the church is a centre of the vestibule. The masonry is very beautiful: khachkars from pink stone, gray and white gravestones with inscriptions, as well as a light-orange sun clock (all used while rebuilding the church) harmonize with the walls built from blue stone.

The second church of the monastery sides the vestibule from the north. It`s a rectangular hall with eastern apse. The church has two entries: from the south through a three-arched vestibule and from the west through the chapel.

The vestibule of the second church is one of the most ancient. It differs from the other constructions of this type being attached to a small church and connected to it through 2,5m wide corridor. The vestibule is a square hall. Its vault is being supported by crossed arches leaning against the pilasters. It was also used as a burial vault for the nobles and clergy. Catholicoses Aristakes, Simeon and Hovhannes were buried there.

Small architectural forms, including khachkars, gravestone, arches, cornices etc., being perfect examples of the medieval Art, have a great artistic value.

The monastic complex includes a number of dwelling and utility structures as well, such as a scriptorium, storehouse of ancient manuscripts, cells with balconies hanging over a precipice, oil-mil, water reservoirs, stalls etc.

By Natalia Ghukasyan,



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