Noravank monastery complex | Silk Road Armenia

Noravank monastery complex

Noravank monastery is situated on the edge of a deep winding gorge of a tributary of Arpa River near the village of Amaghu, in Vayots Dzor district. Noravank ensemble stands amidst the bizarre-shaped precipitous red cliffs. Built in place of an ancient monastery, it grew under the reign of Princes Orbelyan of Syunik. In the 13th-14th centuries the monastery became a residence of bishops of Syunik and, consequently, a major religious and, later, cultural center of Armenia. The main buildings are the churches of St.Karapet and St.Astvatzatzin, built by Momik. The church of St.Karapet (the 9th-10th cc.), from which only ruins have been preserved, is the most ancient monument of Noravank. To the north of it, the main church is located which is also dedicated to St.Karapet. Erected in 1216-1223, it belongs to the widespread cross-winged domed type with two-store side-chapels in the corners. St.Astvatzatzin church, known as Burtelashen (built by Burtel) after the name of its founder, is situated to the south-east of St.Karapet church. Completed in 1339, it was Momik’s last work. His tomb khachkar is near the church there, small and modestly decorated, dated to the same year. The church of St.Grigory (the burial place of the Orbelyans) was added by the architect Siranes on the northern part of St.Karapet church in 1275. Several khachkars of original designs have survived in the territory of the complex. The most valuable of all them is one carved in 1308 by Momik. Apart from everything the most unique and outstanding phenomenon of this complex is the sculpture of Father God. It is something unusual not only to Armenian culture but also to the world culture. The most interesting is that the sculpture has almond-cut eyes, which is not characteristic to the eyes of Armenians. The sculpture has been carved during the attacks of Tatar-Mongols and the architecture made the eyes of the sculpture similar to the eyes of Mongols for them not to destroy it and the whole monastic complex.