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Harichavank Monastery, Harich, Armenia

Harichavank Monastery is situated in Harich village, Armenia, on the northern slope of Aragats Mountain. The monastic complex consists of two churches, a chapel, a belfry, a porch, a school and utility rooms.

There are no historical records concerning the period when the first church of the complex, St. Gregory church was built. But judging from its architectural and decorative elements as well as the records preserved on its walls the researchers came to the conclusion that the church was constructed in VII century. At the beginning of XI century Harichavank was destroyed by Seljuk Turks. Only a century later the monastery was reconstructed by the father superior Grigor.

St. Gregory is a central domed cruciform church. The apses are pentahedral from outside and semicircular inside. A huge dioctahedral dome makes the church look majestic. Initially the church had no side chapels. They were built later, the first in X century, and the second in the XIII century. In 1886 a belfry was attached to the church.

Harichavank reached its growth in XIII century when the monastery became one of the important cultural centers. In 1201 the second church of the monastic complex, church of St. Astvatsatsin (Virgin Mary) was erected by princes Zakareh and Ivaneh Zakarians who bought Harich from the Pahlavouni noble family. They also built walls around the church using it as a fortress as well. St.Astvatsatsin church is a domed hall with two-storey side chapels in each corner. Its interior is too modest - carved ornament with stylized leaves and interwoven stems are the only decorative elements adorning the front side of the eminence above the altar. The facade is decorated rather rich. It’s adorned with rosettes, a sundial, doves and other birds. In the past there was a bas-relief depicting Zakhareh and Ivaneh brothers holding in their hands a tiny copy of the church (later on it was replaced by an onyx image of St. Virgin Mary). All the buildings of the monastery are made of motley stones which were laid in a mosaic way.

In 1224 prince Vahram Hechoup together with father superiors Ter-Hovhannes and Hamazasp erected a porch which connected the two churches. The central part of its ceiling is decorated with ornaments which look like stalactites.

In 1850 Harichavank became a summer residence of Catholicos. The territory of the monastery expanded and new structures were erected: Catholicos’ seat, hostel for monks, refectory, rooms for guests, a school and a number of utility rooms.

By Natalia Ghukasyan,


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