About ARAGOTSOTN AREA
HOVHANNAVANK Hovhannavank is a wonderful piece of Armenian Apostolic Church architecture situated in the village of Ohanavan in the region of Aragatsotn, about 5 KM away from the monastic complex of Saghmosavank. The monastery is attached atop the Kasakh River gorge. The oldest part of the monastery was built in the 4th century by the first Armenian Catholicos Gregory the Illuminator - the preacher of Christianity in Armenia and the building of a cruciform domed church has been preserved since 1216. The complex is surrounded by a high protective wall dating back to the 13-14th centuries. The monastery of Hovhannavank is distinguished among others by the compact arrangement of the architectural complexes around the main building. Another perfect solution of the architectural complex is that the southern and western facades are densely decorated while the northern ones look quite modest. It is not by chance because the better decorated wall is well-lit by the sun, thus making the complex more luxurious. Short inscriptions decorate the walls of the Hovhannavank monastery. It belongs to the type of ecclesiastical edifices like Gandzasar in Nagorno Karabakh with an umbrella-shaped dome, cruciform floor plan, narthex and a high relief of a cross on one of the walls. Such constructions were built during the same time in very different parts of the country. SAGHMOSAVANK Saghmosavank is a 13th century monastery, surrounded by Mount Aragats, Mount Ara and the deep Kasakh Gorge. Saghmosavank was once a religious, academic and cultural center of medieval Armenia. The churches of St. Sion and St. Astvatsatsin together with a narthex and a library form the complex of the monastery. St. Sion, built in 1215, is the main church. The unique interior of Saghmosavank makes an unforgettable impression on every visitor. The soft brown color of the walls harmoniously merges with the surrounding nature. The sheer rocks of the Kasakh river gorge make the whole panorama more complete. As a renowned academic center, Saghmosavank hosts a book repository built in 1255. The repository is of the same height as the church of St. Sion. The interior of the Saghmosavank is unusually beautiful. The red and black colors of some separate parts are due to the red and black stones. Red, white and yellow paint add to the whole beauty of the walls as well as the entire interior. SPITAKAVOR – SISTER CHURCHES These three churches can be called sister churches owing to the legend around them. In ancient times three sisters lived in the town of Ashtarak. Misfortunately or fortunately enough all of them fell in love with the same person, the prince Sargis. The elder sisters decided to help the youngest one and sacrificed themselves for the sake of the happiness of their younger sister. But it turned out to be just the contrary. The two elder sisters wore dresses, one red and the other of the apricot color, and threw themselves into the gorge. The youngest sister fell into despair. This one put on a white dress and again threw herself into the gorge. The prince Sargis became a hermit, and then three small churches were erected at the edge of the gorge. Each church was given the name of the dress colors of the sisters. Tsiranavor is a small church of a cruciform type. The church is constructed from tufa of apricot color. After the collapse of the roof, drum and dome, only the walls have survived. Spitakavor once had a façade painted white with inscriptions on it. The church is now mostly in ruins. Karmravor is also known as St. Astvatsatsin. The church is quite small, but very fascinating. Situated in the northern part of the town of Ashtarak, the church of Karmravor is a real gem of the 7th century Armenian architecture. This small cruciform domed church has survived to the present time as it was set up originally, and is the only monument in Armenia that has retained its original tiled roofing. Unprecedentedly harmonious proportions distinguish this church from the other architectural monuments in Armenia.