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Khoranashat Monastery, Chinari, Armenia

Khoranashat Monastery is located north-east of Chinari village, Tavush Province of Armenia. It was founded in the first half of the 13th century by Vanakan Vardapet under the sponsorship of Vahramyan princes. The monastic complex consists of Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Virgin) and Surb Kiraki (Holy Sunday) churches, a chapels, monastic cells and two cemeteries. The monastery was surrounded by fortress walls (now ruined).

The main building of the complex, Surb Astvatsatsin Church, was constructed in 1211-1222. It`s a domed hall at the same time differing from the constructions of this kind. The main difference is a non-typical altar – rather wide, semicircular, and divided by 14 niches. There are two-storied side chapels to the both sides of the altar.

The vestibule (1222-1240) is joining the church from the west. It`s a centric construction with four columns. Its eastern part as well as the altar apse of the main church is decorated with twelve niches, one of which serves as the entrance. The roof of the vestibule is of extraordinary interest. It is supported by 3 pairs of arches which, intersecting in the central part, form six-winged star.

A small domed Surb Kiraki Church (XIII) is in the southern part of the monastery. In its eastern part one can see the ruins of the chapel and a medieval cemetery with a large winged ornamented khackhar (supposedly it` s a gravestone to Vanakan Vardapet, the founder of the church) and a number of other gravestones.

Khoranashat was one of the largest educational, scientific, cultural and religious centers of the Medieval Armenia. Famous historian Grigor Aknertsi, prominent Armenian philosopher Vardan Areveltsi, catholicos Grigor Akhtamartsi and many other outstanding persons of the time lectured there.

The Monastery was known as a writing center, where priceless manuscripts were written. A large number of them are being kept in the Matenadaran (Ancient manuscripts institution in Yerevan). Narekatsi`s “Book of Mournful Chants”, “Narek”, “Mashtots” are among them. A gospel rewritten in the Monastery is supposed to be created in ancient Artsakh, Utik. The «Last Supper», interpreted in it, has no analogues in the world. Now this Gospel is being kept in the German Halle city.

Khoranashat Monastery is located on the border with Azerbaijan, so all the approaches to it are under shot danger. The locked doors of the Monastery open only once a year, on May 2, when the residents of the neighboring villages gathering in the church to participate in the liturgy and commemorate deceased (2013).

By Natalia Ghukasyan,


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