Find On MapFind On Map - Photo Gallery (7)

St. Hovhannes Mkrtich Temple of Bagavan, Diyadin, Turkey

St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist) Temple of Bagavan, one of the most significant examples of the VII century Armenian architecture, is situated in Bagrevand district of historical Ayrarat province of Mets Hayq at the foot of Mount Npat in the village Uch Kilise (3 churches-till 1915) (Mount Tendurek, the territory of today’s Turkey, Taşteker village, west of Diyadin). In pre-Christian Armenia Bagavan (coming from Parthian “Bag”-“idol” and Armenian “avan” - place) was one of the largest pagan places of worship. It was a burial place for supreme pagan priests. Supreme priest Mazhan, son of Artashes I killed by his brothers Tiran and Artavazd is also buried here. Navasard (New Year celebration in pagan Armenia) celebrations in Bagavan were accompanied by festivities with the participation of the King.

Not far from the Bagavan temple flows Arsanias River (Murat River or Eastern Euphrates) in which waters Gregory the Illuminator baptized Armenian King Trdat III (Tiridates III). After it Christianity was adopted in Armenia as a state religion (301).

According to the inscription, St. Hovhannes temple was built in 631-639 by architect Israel Gorakhchetsi under bishop Ezr. Bagavan was a center of Bagrevand and Arsharunik episcopacy. The most famous of Bagavan bishops were Eznik Koghbatsi and Movses Khorenatsi.

Bagavan temple is 46 meters in length, 27 meters in width and 20 meters in height. Its dimensions are comparable to the grand Armenian temples of Dvin, Zvartnots and Talin. It is a cross-domed basilica. Two pairs of massive pillars of articulate shape supporting the drum and the cupola separate the hall into three naves. The altar apse is pushed forward. Side-chapels are covered with intersecting arched vault. The outward appearance is deprived of integrity typical to other monuments of this kind. The southern, northern and eastern facades are disintegrated.

An enormous dome of St. Hovhannes temple dominates the construction. To support such a huge dome there were used piers different from those usually used during construction of other Armenian religious buildings. The piers squeezing in side naves considerably reduced their width. As a result the octahedral drum stuck out beyond the bounds of the southern and northern facades of western and eastern arms. So the upper part of the temple differs from that typical to cross-domed churches.

The outward appearance of the temple is rather modest and is almost deprived of any decorations in contrast to the well brightened interior. In 19th century the temple was associated with Sophia`s Temple in Constantinople (now Istanbul). According to Hovhannes Draskhanakertsi the temple had very rich decoration. An Arabian governor-general killed more than 40 monks hankered for interior beauty.

The monastery had a unique collection of manuscripts which was kept in its secret rooms till XIX century. During Russo-Turkish war in 1877-1878 the collection was ravaged and destroyed. Bagavan temple has a large number of wide windows (45). Their location resembles the temples in Constantinople at the time of Emperor Justinian. Later this system was enhanced and used in gorgeous Armenian temples of VII c. (Aruch, Talin).

In XVIII north-western part of the temple was rebuilt; at that time a new dome was erected.

The monastery was destroyed by Turks in late 1940s.

By Natalia Ghukasyan,


Browse Buildings (519) : # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z