Gandzasar - | Silk Road Armenia



1238 y.
The Gandzasar Monastery, located in the Martakert district of Artsakh, was constructed between 1216 and 1238. While the exact date of the vestibule’s foundation remains uncertain, an inscription suggests its completion in 1266. Throughout history, the old church at Gandzasar served as a significant gathering place for both political and religious matters in Artsakh and surrounding Armenian regions during the 9th and 10th centuries. Over time, Gandzasar grew in importance, becoming a hub of cultural life in the region and the seat of the Eastern Armenian patriarchate. By the late 17th century, it became a focal point in the struggle for liberation, led by the heroic Catholicos Yesayi.

The Gandzasar complex comprises the main church and the vestibule. The St. Hovhannes Mkrtich church boasts a cruciform interior and a rectangular domed exterior, with two-story side-chapels in each corner. The temple’s architect ingeniously designed a striking drum adorned with 16 triangular grooves and intricate ornaments, each featuring its own unique sculpture at the base. The vestibule itself serves as the burial site for the Hasan-Jalalyan family.

Within the sturdy walls of Gandzasar, you’ll find eight small and two large rooms in the northern wing of the church, while a larger building in the eastern section once served as a school and later as a cloister-hotel. Notably, the temple’s walls showcase approximately 200 inscriptions, each holding historical significance.

Gandzasar’s altar houses the revered head of Hovhannes Mkrtich (John the Baptist), a sacred relic brought from Venice by Armenian merchants. The monastery stands as a testament to the rich cultural and religious heritage of the region, and its historical significance continues to captivate visitors to this day.