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Nor Varagavank Monastery, Varagavan, Armenia

Nor (new) Varagavank monastery is located in the Tavush Province of Armenia about 2 km southwest of Varagavan village. The monastery was founded by the prince David Kyurikian (branch of Bagratouni princely dynasty) in 1193-1198. One nave church with two altars was built first. The Kyurikian`s ancestral burial vault was attached to the church from the north (1200). Later single-nave chapel was attached to the church from the south.

In 1224-1237 David`s son Vasak II built Sourb Astvatsatsin (St. Mother of God) church in the northern part of the monastery. The architect of the church is Gazan Anetsi. The church rectangular from the outside and cruciform inside has four side-chapels. It`s crowned with a dome on a cylindrical drum. The church has two entrances — from the south and from the west. Decoration of the southern entrance is rather original and not typical to the Armenian medieval culture. Dark-violet and light-blue stones in the form of star, diamond and hexahedron are laid in a mosaic way. Zoomorphic and plant ornaments are carved on the stones.

Nor Varagavank monastery had two vestibules only one of which survived through centuries. It`s a rectangular hall built in 1237-1261 under the initiative of the Father Superior Hovhannes Touetsi. The monastery was equipped with water supply system constructed by a certain Shara in 1253. There are khachkars around the monastery. The oldest of them was created by Vardan in 1620.

Initially the monastic complex was called Anapat («desert»). In 1273 Ghoukas, Father Superior of Varagavank monastery located in the Vaspurakan province of historical Armenia (nowadays Turkey) escaping from persecutions of the Khorasan sultan found shelter in Anapat. He brought with him Sacred Cross of Varaga and later the Anapat was renamed into Nor (New) Varagavank.

Today the monastery is partially destroyed.

By Natalia Ghukasyan,


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