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KARMRAVOR CHURCH

Karmravor or Surb Astvatsatsin is a 7th century Armenian church built by priests Gregory and Manas. The church is located on the northeast side of the town of Ashtarak in Aragatsotn Marz, Armenia.

According to a legend, three sisters lived in Ashtarak, all of whom fell in love with the same man, prince Sargis. The elder two sisters decided to commit suicide in favor of the youngest one. One wearing an apricot-orange dress and the other wearing a red dress, they threw themselves into the gorge. When the youngest sister found out, she put on a white dress and also threw herself into the gorge. Sargis then became a hermit and three small churches appeared at the edge of the gorge, named after the sisters' dress colors.


Surb Astvatsatsin is a simple building with a small cruciform central-plan and a Byzantine style single red tile dome roof. It is a small church measuring only 19 feet 7 inches by 24 feet 6 inches. The apse is horseshoe shaped in the interior, and is rectangular on the exterior. It has an octagonal drum, and is simply decorated with geometric and foliage patterns around the eaves and cornices. Most of the original tiles on the roof which were laid in mortar have remained intact, and the church has had only some minor restoration during the 1950's.


According to Thierry, Surb Astvatsatsin marks a turning point in Armenian architecture, with its simple building in the shape of a cross with a single dome setting a style that would be repeated over the years in spite of other influences.

Other churches of a similar style attributed to the 6th or 7th century are Saint Marine of Artik, Lmbatavank, Surp Astvatsatsin of Talin, and Surp Astvatsatsin of Voskepar.


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