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Noravank Monastery, Vayots Dzor, Armenia

Noravank (Amaghu Noravank) is located 10 km to the south of Areni village, Vayots Dzor Province, in Amaghu River picturesque gorge, 3 km north-east from Amaghu medieval village.

Noravank was built by Hovhannes bishop in 1105, and in XIII-XIV centuries owing to the Orbelians ruling family Noravank reconstructed and expanded, becoming Syunik’s spiritual, educational and cultural center, as well as the Orbelyans’ cemetery. Noravank monastery complex consists of St. Karapet, St. Grigor and St. Astvatsatsin churches and vestibule (narthex).

The main church of the complex - St. Karapet is a mono nave basilica, built by Prince Liparit Orbelyan in 1216-1223. The only entrance to the Church is from the West and opens to the vestibule, which was built after the St. Karapet, and later, in 1261 with initiative of Smbat Orbelyan was rebuild by Siranes architect. 1321 earthquake damaged the structure, but later was reconstructed by the famous architect Momik. The earthquake in 1931 again damaged the church's dome. In 1949 the roof and walls were restored, and later in 1998, St. Karapet was completely renovated with sponsorship of Armenian origin Canadian family.

Along the northern wall of St. Karapet church extends St. Grigor church-vaulted mausoleum of Prince Smbat (built by Siranes architect).

The most beautiful and “central positioned” building of the monastery is St. Astvatsatsin – the two-story mausoleum-church. It is also called Burtelashen, in honor of Prince Burtel Orbelyan, who financed the construction of this church. Due to architectural forms, fine decorations and the high artistic merit it is considered as one of the jewels of medieval Armenian architecture, and also a "Swan song» for this period and for its fine representative - architect Momik.

Most probably Momik came to Noravank after he had completed the construction of St. Astvatsatsin church of Areni in 1321. Although Noravank’s St. Astvatsatsin church was completed in 1339, when Momik was not alive (in 1333), it is considered as the last masterpiece of the fine architect, sculptor and miniaturist Momik. Here you can see the cross-stones belonging to master's hand, as well as a plaque dedicated to his memory.

By Veronica Karapetyan,

Photos: Arpine & Quentin


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