Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 78, Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin, Armenia(1)

Nopi is nudging me....she wants to go to Armenia!
Why Nopi? You want to see some of the UNESCO Sita and Marti are saying..yes, yes.....pretty please....
Okay, let's make a very quick stop over in Armenia !

The roots of the Armenian Church go back to the first century.
Did you know that according to tradition, the Armenian Church was founded by two of Jesus' twelve apostles -- Thaddaeus and Bartholomew -- who preached Christianity
n Armenia between AD 40-60??

Let's start off by going to see a masterpiece of religious architecture and a major center of learning in the Middle Ages....the Sanahin Monastery.

Moss-covered Sanahin is a fascinatingly detailed church and monastery complex, packed with ancient graves, darkened chapels and medieval gallery schools (study halls where pupils sat on benches on either side of a corridor).

The inner sanctum of the Surp Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) Church, located in the middle of several buildings, is the oldest structure here, dating back to 928, while its adjoining gavit or entrance hall is one of the later buildings, built in 1211.

A library was creat
ed at Sanahin in 1062, and a medical school flourished in the 12th century. As you walk through the passages you can just imagine the calligraphers hard at work........

Next stop......Haghpat Monastery, another medieval Armenian monastery complex.
The monastery was founded by Saint Nishan (Sourb Nshan) in the 10th century during the reign of King Abas I.The monastery at Sanahin was built around the same time.

The location of Haghpat Monastery was chosen so that it overlooks the Debed River in northern Armenia's Lori region. It was built, not on a peak, but halfway up a hillside on a site chosen to afford protection and concealment from prying eyes and also in response to a kind of monastic humility. It is built on a verdant promontory located in the middle of a mountain cirque, which is often wreathed in clouds.

The largest church in the complex, the Cathedral of St. Nishan, was built from 967-991. It is a typical example of tenth century Armenian architecture, its central dome rests on the four imposing pillars of the lateral walls. The outside walls are dotted with triangular recesses.

There are several other structures at the site as well and a number of splendid khachkars (cross-stones) of the 11th-13th centuries standing on the territory of the monastery.

The monastery has been damaged many times. Sometime around 1130, an earthquake destroyed parts of Haghpat Monastery and it was not restored until fifty years later. It also suffered numerous attacks by armed forces in the many centuries of its existence and from a major earthquake in 1988. Nevertheless, much of the complex is still intact and stands today without substantial alterations.

Sita says that the monasteries at Haghpat and Sanahin were chosen as UNESCO World Heritage Sites because the two monastic complexes represent the highest flowering of Armenian religious architecture, whose unique style developed from a blending of elements of Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture and the traditional vernacular architecture of the Caucasian region. Yes Mam!

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