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Surb Astvatsatsin Church, Voskepar, Armenia

Surb Astvatsatsin church (St.Virgin Mary) is located in Tavush Province of Armenia, near Voskepar village. It was founded in 7-8th centuries, supposedly in 590-620. There are no inscriptions or documents regarding its accurate construction date.

Surb Astvatsatsin is a cruciform central plan church. Its four apses radiate from the large central square overleaped by an octagonal drum. All three apses (except the eastern one) are rectangular outside which differ Voskepar from other similar church buildings (Mastara, Arich, Kars, Artik) with pentahedral apses.

The church surmounted on a stylobate was built of large light beige colored sandstone. There are two rectangular vaulted side-chapels. Surb Astvatsatsin church has two entries, from the south and the west. Both portals have a pediment leaning on two pairs of semi-columns. “Blooming” crosses are carved on the rectangular niches of the tympanum. The frames of the windows are plane, except one, with three-leafed chain pattern. The cornice (only some fragments of it were preserved) was decorated with a similar ornament. All these decorative elements are typical to the Armenian architecture of early Middle Ages.

Originally the roof was made of terracotta tiles (fragments found at the site), but later it was covered with stone. Supposedly the interior walls were covered with frescoes. Architectural integrity and church building ideal proportions indicate great skills of the builder.

The church is in a good condition, though the roof is partially damaged. Last time the restoration works were carried out there in 1975-1977.

By Natalia Ghukasyan,


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