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MAKARAVANK MONASTERY

Makaravank is a tenth to thirteenth century church complex in Achajur Village of Tavush Marz, on the slope of Paitatap Mountain. Though the monastery is no longer used for services, the complex is well preserved. There are 4 churches, a gavit (vestry) that serves the two largest of the churches, and other buildings which served secondary roles. At one time there used to be vast settlements around Makaravank, the presence of which was of great importance for the growth of the monastery.

The oldest church of the group was built during the tenth and eleventh centuries. The materials used in its construction were mostly large pieces of roughly hewn red tufa (a common Armenian building material). One of the churches, named Surb Astvatsatsin church, was built in 1198 in white stone, on the eastern side of the complex. Surb Astvatsatsin is attributed to Yovhannes. The main church was built in 1205, using pink andesite, with a red andesite gavit.


The monastery was surrounded with walls, its gate was decorated with columns. Numerous residential structures were situated in the enclosed territory. Among them were architectural pavilions housing mineral springs. Makaravank’s structures are built of dark-pink andesite and red tufa, with occasional greenish stones. There are also remnants of a fence, and a spring/well of the 12th or 13th century outside of the walls where a picnic area is now located.
Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church attributed to Abbot Yovhannes in 1198 in memory of his parents and brothers, with sculpted a portal.


The church is a miniature building, which belongs to the type of the four-apse centric round monuments of the tenth-thirteenth centuries such as the church of St. Gregory in Sanahin. But as distinct from them the church of Astvatsatsin is round only in its lower part and octahedral in its upper part, with four triangular niches crowned with various conchs. The dome is proportionate to the lower round bulk. The decoration of the church is in stylistic harmony with that of the main temple and the vestry. The profiled girth skirting the building passes across the ends of the niches and the window openings. On the northern side there are eye-catching reliefs of a stork and a snake, and over the southern window a scene showing two beasts locked in a fight.

The most ancient structure of all is Makaravank’s tenth-century cross-winged domed church with annexes in the corners, which differs from the ordinary structures of this type by rich carved ornamentation (floral and interlaced linear) on the wall of the altar dais and on the framings of the main windows of the interior.

The small chapels built of ashlar stones have carved door platbands. Makaravank’s chapel has a vaulted ceiling.


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