Kecharis Monastery, Tsakhkadzor, Armenia
Kecharis Monastery is located in the town of Tsakhkadzor, in the Kotayk Province. It was founded by Pahlavuni princes in the 11th century; its construction continued till the 13th century. In the 12th-13th centuries Kecharis was one of the largest cultural and spiritual centers of medieval Armenia.
The monastic complex includes 4 churches, a vestibule (narthex), 2 chapels and a cemetery. The first church of the monastic complex, St. Grigor the Illuminator (Lusavorich) was erected by the prince Grigor Magistros Pahlavuni. According to the records preserved above the southern gates of the church, it was built in 1033. Later on a number of historians suggested a version according to which the church was built earlier, in 1013, when the King Gagik I Bagratuni and the Catholicos Sargis I Sevantsi, mentioned in the record, were still alive. The vestibule of the church was built in 1196-1206. Its dome was destroyed by the earthquake in 1828.
According to the historical chronicles a small domical church of Surb Nshan, located to the south from the main church was also built by Grigor Magistros Pahlavuni in 1051. Construction of the third church, St. Katoghike, was initiated by the prince Vasak Khaghbakian. Its architect supposedly was well known Vetsik. Church of St. Katoghike is notable for its complex architectural structure, slim silhouette and elegant interior decoration. A small rectangular church of St. Resurrection (Surb Haroutyun) was erected in 1220. It served as a burial vault for a number of the Monastery Father Superiors. The chapel (built in XI century) located between the churches of St. Illuminator and Surb Nshan, where buried the prince Grigor Magistros Pahlavuni, is dilapidated today.
Prince Grigor Apiratian from Pahlavuni family (1099) killed during the battle against Seljuk Turks, the Great Prince Prosh (1284) and the architect Vetsik are buried in the Kecharis Monastery yard.
During its long history the Monastery undertook renovations several times. First time it was in 1248 after the Mongol invasion. In 1947-49 the roofs of the buildings were coated with stone, and an enclosing wall was erected around the territory. In 1990 churches of St. Grigor the Illuminator and St. Katoghike were reconstructed. In 2000 the Kecharis Monastery was consecrated and now it serves as an Episcopal seat of Kotayk Diocese.
By Natalia Ghukasyan, www.building.am