Sevanavank monastic complex, located on a peninsula at the northwestern shore of Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Province of
Armenia, is not far from the town of Sevan. Initially the monastery was built at the southern shore of a small island. After the artificial draining of Lake Sevan, which started in the era of Joseph Stalin, the water level fell about 20 meters, and the island transformed into a peninsula
A sky-piercing Sevanavank, soaring highly on the present peninsula of Lake Sevan, is located in Gegharkunik province. However, in ancient
pagan times, the island was a religious center with a temple and an altar, which was later destroyed and St. Gregory the Illuminator, the
founder of the Armenian Apostolic Church on the very site constructed a wooden chapel after St. Harutyun. Early Christian traditions and
historical sources indicate that in honor of the Armenian king Tiridates, St. Gregory built St. Karapet chapel, which later served as the basis for St. Karapet Church. Sevanavank was truly and spiritually reborn in the 9th century and it is linked to the names of Mariam a daughter of Ashot I Bagratuni and a widow of Prince Vasak Gaburn of Syunik and Eghivardetsi, the Catholicos of all Armenians and Master of Mashtots.
According to Stephan Orbelian, Mashtots, leading an ascetic life in Sevan shore, had a vision due to which he was ordered to build a church on the island in the name of the Twelve Apostles and by that to establish unity.
Princess Mariam of Syunik who had also pledged to build forty churches after her husband’s death came to Sevan too, being inspired by the
same divine motive. And we still witness the well preserved historic small St. Apostles and St. Karapet churches where Ashot Bagratuni
came as a pilgrim after the construction of the monastery and endowed many gifts, in particular the holy sign of the Cross, which is known as a “Holy Sign of Sevan”. Holy Sign was made of the tub, where the Holy Mother bathed baby Jesus. Holy Mother of God Church is a few meters away from the St. Apostles church and is the second monument of the complex. Sevanavank complex became the leading center for those who strived for knowledge and learning. This was one of the spiritual, cultural and educational centers of the whole Armenian desert Land. Hovhannes Draskhanakertsi, a 10th century historian and Catholicos, lived and created in Sevanavank.
Ashot II, nicknamed as Ashot “Iron“ settled in this monastery, and in 924-25 after winning the battle of Lake Sevan revived and re-
established the Bagratuni kingdom. The monastery was coldheartedly looted by bloodthirsty plunderers and destroyed by numerous invasions. Nevertheless, the restoration began in 1441 after the re-establishment of the Patriarch throne of Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
The monastery was closed and partly destroyed during the Soviet period. In 1936 the earthquake shattered the already dilapidated and
much damaged monastery. Fortunately, the monastery revived and rose from its ashes only in 1990s and at present it is still being reconstructed. Sevanavank is a historical and cultural place of great significance, where thousands of Armenian pilgrims and visitors from all over the world come to visit.