Vorotnavank, Syunik Region, Armenia
Vorotnavank, or Vaghatin Monastery is located 2 km. to the south-west from Vaghatin village, on the edge of Vorotan canyon.
According to Stepanos Orbelian, the monastic complex was one of the most important in Armenia. The oldest church of the complex, Sourb Grigor church (now ruined), was founded by Grigor Lusavorich (Grigor the Illuminator). In the Middle Ages it was a pilgrimage church and was famous for its magic ability to treat snakebites.
The monastic complex consists of two churches, a porch and auxiliary structures. In 1000 Syunik king Smbat’s wife, Shahandukht built St. Stepanos Forerunner to the north-east of St. Grigor church. It has two side-chapels, prayer-room and a porch. St. Karapet church was built by Shahandukht’s son (rother of Syunik king Vasak), prince Sevada in 1006-1007. In the yard of the monastery queen Shahandukht placed an octahedral column called gavazan (demolished during 1937 earthquake) like the one in Tatev Monastery. It’s a religious structure, a symbol of Episcopal power meaning that monks were ordained and princes crowned in the monastery.
St. Karapet church is cruciform inside, domed structure with three altars. There are side-chapels in each corner of the church. It was decorated with frescoes. A starry sky with an angel in the centre of it is painted on a preserved fragment.
Porches are attached to the both churches, which served as a burial vault for princes. The founders of the monasteries queen Shahandukht and her son Sevada are buried there. The monastery was surrounded by a fortress wall, only a part of which preserved till now. All the structures of the monastery are built from local basalt stone.
The monastery was ravaged during Seljuk Turks and Mongol invasions. In 1438 priest Sargis Angekhakot restored the dome of St. Karapet church.
Vorotnavank was an educational centre. Prominent Armenian philosopher Hovhan Vorotnetsi, Grigor Tatevatsi and many others lived and worked there.
The monastery functioned till the beginning of XX century. All the structures of the monastery suffered during 1931 earthquake. Reconstruction started in 1980, but the works are not completed till now.
By Natalia Ghukasyan, www.building.am