NORAVANK

The 13th-century Armenian monastery, located 122 km from Yerevan in a narrow gorge made by the Amaghu River, nears the town of Yeghegnadzor, Armenia. The gorge is known for its tall, sheer, brick red cliffs, directly across from the monastery. The monastery is best known for its two-story Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church, which grants access to the second floor by way of a narrow stone- made staircase jutting out from the face of building.

A prominent and towering Noravank monastic complex located 3 km east from Amaghu village and built on the unapproachable terrace of the deeply seated gorge in the north is a sample of the Armenian architecture dated to 13-14 centuries. Noravank has been famous for its curing medical springs since Middle Ages and Bishop Hovhaness built it in 1205. In the early middle Ages the Monastery was the spiritual center of Syunik, the residence of Syunik Metropolitans and the ancestral shrine of the Orbelians. Architect Siranes created his works here in the 13th century and in the first half of the 14th century a well-known miniature painter, sculptor and architect Momik succeeded him.

There is some historic information that St. Karapet and St. Pakos churches used to be there in the 11-12 centuries, but they were not preserved. The main St. Karapet church built by Liparit Orbelyan in the years of 1216-1223 as well as a broad narthex and prince Smbat sepulcher are within the enclosure of the complex, yet the dome of the main church was destroyed by the earthquake in 1840. Prince Burtel’s two-story church and sepulcher is close to the main monument complex. The lower parts of the walls with the inscriptions dated in 1232 and 1256 have been preserved from the original building. Architect Siranes initiated by Smbat Orbelian carried out the reconstruction of the narthex in 1261. Later, as a result of 1321 earthquake the structure was damaged again. Momik, who just graduated from Areni church, probably participated in the reconstruction activities. The cross- shaped chapel of the second floor was built on the sepulcher, which is on the first floor of the rectangular planned structure. The delicately elaborated and perfectly designed to fit into the wall stairs lead to the chapel. The sculptures of the monuments, carved on the biblical themes are of particular importance and attract special attention.

Holy Mother of God with Jesus sitting on her left knee as well as Hovhaness the Baptist with a halo on the left and Isaiah prophet on the right were carved above the door. The wall surrounding the complex was built in the 17-18th centuries. There are numerous magnificent cross-stones artfully carved, but those made by Momik are clearly distinguished among others due to their highly artistic values. There is a cross-stone erected in memory of Momik in Noravank.

The roof of Noravank, a two-story church sepulcher and upper parts of the walls were restored in 1948-49. Noravank as a world cultural masterpiece was registered under the patronage of UNESCO In 1996. Renovation and restoration works of Noravank monastery, St. Karapet Church, St. Gregory Chapel and Hoy Mother of God were totally completed in 1999.