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Yeghishe Arakyal Monastery, Mataghis, NKR (Armenia)

Yeghishe Arakyal (Apostle) monastery is one of the ancient Armenian monasteries. It`s situated in the Martakert region of Nagorno Karabakh, near the village of Mataghis on the flank of Mount Mrav. In ancient times it was a pagan sacred place called holy monastery at Nersmihr. After the adoption of Christianity it became Christian and was called Jrvshtik after the waterfall situated near the monastery. According to the historian Movses Kaghankatvatsi in the 5th century the Aghvan king Vachagan Barepasht (the Pious) erected a pillar chapel on the place where the relics of St.Yeghishe were buried. The king himself was also buried there after his death.

The monastic complex consists of churches, chapels, residential buildings and utility structures (now ruined). The main church of the monastery is a vaulted hall built in XII-XIII centuries. During its long history it was reconstructed several times.

The church has two entries from the south and the west. The vestibule (narthex) was built in 1284 in harmony with the church design. It`s a square hall with two pylons supporting the vault. In 1323 a belfry tower was constructed on the roof of the vestibule. In 1286 father superior Simeon built a church over the grave of Vachagan Barepasht.

There are chapels on the both sides of the main church: three to the south and four to the north, which also served as a burial vaults.

The refectory and monastic cells are in the southern part of the monastery. Two-storey building belonging to the Father Superior of the monastery (1552) is notable for its architecture.

In the 16th century vaulted gate and a wall around the monastery were erected. The yard of the monastery is studded with monuments, khachkars (cross-stones) and gravestones dating from the 13th and next centuries.

In the Middle Ages Yeghishe Arakyal monastery was a cultural and educational centre of Artsakh. A number of manuscripts, documents, church utensils were kept there. In the 18th century monastery became one of the centers for the Armenian National Liberation movement.

By Natalia Ghukasyan,


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