Haghpat Monastery is one of the most beautiful ancient monasteries. Sanahin monastery was built around the same time as Haghpat and is situated nearby. Find the basic information on monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin here.
You may have heard that Armenia is an open-air museum. It’s a wonderful country full of different monuments.
Some people consider Armenia to be full of history, as they have visited many places or have read about it, and some people think that the Armenia is the history itself.
If you still have any doubts then keep up with us, as we are going to talk about the 2 most historical monasteries of Armenia – Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, which are located in the north of Armenia, in Lori province.
Haghpat monastery: The History
Haghpat Monastery is situated in the homonym village Haghpat. If you visit this place once, you will be able to “feel the past” just next to you, and we are sure you will never forget Armenia.
The monastery dates back to the medieval era, around 976 and was founded by the queen of Armenia Khosrovanuysh. She was the wife of the King Ashot the 3rd of the Bagratid dynasty.
The name Haghpat literary translated from Armenian means “A strong, firm wall”.
The monastery itself overlooks the river Debed. Unlike many other monasteries of Armenia, this one is not isolated from the village, so that the people could reach there anytime. Besides, both monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin were important educational centers of that time.
Don’t be puzzled about that. Churches and monasteries have always been, not only spiritual and religious places for Armenians, but also educational centers. Those time priests were the most educated and intelligent people and were able to teach civilians.
Haghpat is considered to be a church complex and in this complex the biggest church is the church of St. Nshan (Surb Nshan in Armenian). Surb Nshan was founded by the king Smbat in 991 and it is a typical Armenian 10th-century architecture example. In this complex, you can find other small churches as well. The Surb Grigor church is one of them and was constructed in 1005.
Getting to know the history of this church complex maybe you won’t be surprised to know, that the Haghpat monastery appeared in the World Heritage list of UNESCO in 1996. This is considered to be the “diamond” of the Armenian religious architecture of middle ages.
Haghpat Monastery: The Architectural Style
Haghpat church complex has unique architectural elements inherited from the Byzantine architecture, as well as, elements from Caucasian architecture.
This area is rich with history not only for its churches but also with the numerous medieval cross-stones (khachkar) as well. Maybe the most famous amongst them is the khachkar “All savior” (Amenaprkich in Armenian). This khachkar dates back to 1273.
Unfortunately, this gorgeous monastery complex has been damaged during many decades. The biggest damage accrued in 1130, when the earthquake destroyed most parts of the monastery. This damage was restored only 50 years later.
As an example of the Armenian history, this monastery during many centuries has suffered many damages, as there were many wars in Armenia. In 1988 Haghpat suffered another strong earthquake.
Nowadays this is one of the most popular touristic sightseeing of Armenia.
As we have mentioned above the Haghpat monastery has a unique architectural style and has a lot of resemblance with the Sanahin monastery.This is explained by the fact that these two churches belong to the same epoch and maybe these were built by the architects of the same architectural school.
Though, as the legend says, these 2 churches were built by a father and a son. The legend says that while the father was constructing the Haghpat monastery, his son was doing the same to construct the Sanahin, in order to show that he can be better than him.
When the father saw the new church said- “this is older (pointing out Haghpat) than yours”. This is where does the name Sanahin come from. In Armenian it means “this one is older than that one”. Interesting, isn’t it?
As you may see in most of the Armenian churches, Haghpat has the cross-winged dome as well, which is the symbol of Christianity.
Sanahin Monastery: History
As we have mentioned, nearby the Haghpat monastery stands Sanahin monastery, which was built around the same time as Haghpat. Being constructed in the same way and by the people of the same architectural school, doesn’t mean that they are the same and there is nothing to see in Sanahin Monastery.
The proof of this is , that the Sanahin monastery has a huge number of tourists too. The breathtaking beauty of this complex is guided by the beautiful nature of the Lori region.
This beautiful church is under the protection of the Armenian apostolic church with its ancient khachkars. A particular thing about this church is that you can find there many graves of the church bishops.
This is a tradition which comes from the ancient past, as the Armenians used to bury their bishops in the churches, or in surrounding areas. This incredible complex includes Surb Hakob church, dating back to 9th century, Surb Astvatsatsin church dating back to 928-944 and Surb Amenaprkich church constructed in 966.
Due to many natural disasters during centuries, now you can hardly see the frescoes, which once used to decorate these churches. There were included more or less 20 chapels and churches, a library and bell towers, many galleries and other stunning monuments.
During 10-13th centuries this monastery served as an important educational center of the region, where many people were studying medicine and humanitarian sciences.
As Haghpat monastery, Sanahin is rich in Cross stones as well. There you can find nearly 80 examples.
Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin are included in the World cultural heritage of UNESCO.
Sanahin Monastery: Architectural Style
As Sanahin and Haghpat monasteries are located next to each other. Earthquakes and the disasters damaged them equally and at the same time. Many altars were destroyed and so on. As the result of earthquakes, there have been many reconstructions, through which some high domes of monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin were replaced by the lower ones.
The particular architecture of Sanahin includes annexes in four corners of the church as well as a cross-winged dome style. Examples of these are Surb Hakob church ( 9th century), Surb Astvatsatsin church, as well as, Surb Amenaprkich church.
They will be a good destination if you visit Armenia for sightseeing. Please make sure that your list of destination in Armenia will include Haghpat Monastery & Sanahin Monastery!
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