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Tsiranavor Church, Ashtarak, Armenia

Tsiranavor (meaning apricot hue) church in Ashtarak was probably built in V century by the order of Nerses II Bagrevandtsi Catholicos. This triple-nave basilica has rectangular plan, horseshoe apse with two chambers in left and right sides. From the outside it was encircled with two rings of walls, therefore, the church also served as a fortress and was called Pokaberd (Fortress of Pok). The exterior dimensions of the church are 12.6x25.3 meters. The roof of the central nave was supported by three pairs of T-shaped piers, which was characteristic of V century Armenian architecture. The roof of the church was ruined in 1815.

According to an old legend, three sisters living in Ashtarak fell in love with young man Sargis. In favor of the youngest one the two elder sisters decided to commit suicide. One wearing an apricot dress and the other red dress, threw themselves into a gorge. Finding the sisters dead, the youngest sister put on a white dress and also threw herself into a gorge. After sisters' death broken hearted Sargis became a hermit... The three small churches - Karmravor (reddish), Tsiranavor (apricot hue) and Spitakavor (whitish) at the edge of the gorge, named after the sisters' dress colors.


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