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The Monastery of Haghpat was one of the most important and most famous spiritual and cultural centers in Armenia. It enjoyed the protection of feudal lords and clergymen and thanks to many of the endowments it received over the centuries, the monastery was owner of numerous fields, orchards and villages.

During the 2nd half of the 12th century, Haghpat Monastery became the diocesan headquarters of the Kyurikian kingdom and the family mausoleum moved here from Sanahin Monastery. In 1081, Basil, the Bishop pf Ani-Shirak was consecrated Catholicos at Haghpat. Amira Gizel and the Seljuk Turks frequently attacked both Haghpat and Sanahin monasteries during the first half of the 12th century. However, Georgian King David the Builder liberated the monastery from the Seljuk Turks and incorporated it into Georgian territory. From the second half of the 12th century till the 14th century, Haghpat Monastery was controlled first by Artsrouni family and later the Zakarian family. By order of Ivane Zakarian, a fort was built near the monastery to protect it and its clergymen.

Haghpat Monastery was founded in 976 during the reign of King Ashot Bagratuni IV. The monastery was one of the major centers of medieval Armenian culture where famous philosophers and artists worked. Hundreds of manuscripts, including the Gospel of Haghpat (1211) were copied here.

Haghpat Monastery

Haghpat Monastery

The monastic complex is comprised of the Church of the Holy Cross, two narthexes, three smaller churches, two corridor-mausoleums, a refectory, a scriptorium, a bell tower, a few chapel-mausoleums and cross stones (khachkars). The oldest structure of the monastery is the Church of the Holy Cross Seal, which was built by Queen Khosrovanoush in 976-991 and dedicated to her sons, Smbat and Gourgen. It is a perfect example of the new direction in Armenian architecture that was taking form in the 10th-11th centuries. This new direction spread quickly and was manifested in many other examples. The architect is said to be Trdat by tradition.

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