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Amaras is a town located in the “Myous Haband” region of Artsakh. Situated 10 km southeast of Mardouni, one of the regional centers of the Autonomous Republic of Nagorno Karabagh, Amaras is nestled between the Khazaz and Lusavorich mountains.

St. Gregory the Illuminator began to build a monastery here in the 4th century, which was finished by his grandson Bishop Grigoris. In the 5th century, St. Mesrop Mashtots opened the first school in Artsakh at Amaras. During the Arab conquests, Amaras and its surrounding region came under attack, but in the 9th century the people fought back under the leadership of Aranshahik princes, Sahl Smbatian and Yesayi Abou-Mouseh. Thick walls surrounded Amaras Monastery and so during times of danger it served as a fortress that protected people against the attacking enemy. It is because of this reason hat Seljuk Turks and Mongol invaders frequently destroyed Amaras Monastery. Despite their attemps the monastery was always quickly reconstructed and continued to thrive. Based on this fact, a popular folklore arose about Amaras. When the enemies came to attack and destroy the town, they tried to make sute the monastery would not be rebuilt again by lining up their soldiers from the town to the Yeraskh River. Then one by one each soldier would pass stones from the town structures and dump them into the river. But as soon as the enemy retreated, the monastery would be rebuilt to its former splendor on the same spot.

Amaras Monastery

Amaras Monastery

During the conquests of Tamer lane at the end of the 14th century, Amaras was destroyed badly. But Amaras did not lose its Episcopal seat. During the difficult 15th and 16th centuries Amaras remained a center of culturally ardent monastic life. Its school had always continued to stay open and valuable manuscripts were produced, many of which exist today. In 1664, the monastery financed the construction of a summer residence for the primate and a church named after St. Grigoris near the village of Herher. The main church of Amaras Monastery is constructed out of light gray stone from quarries at Shushi. The dome stands on a circle of arches, which rests upon four beautiful columns inside the church. The fortifying walls still stand today as well as most of its auxiliary structures.

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