Kaptavank monastery

XII c.

The road heading southwest from Chinchin village of Tavush district comes across one of the unique monuments of medieval Armenian architecture - Kaptavank (Blue monastery), situated 5km from the village.

Rising in a glade, surrounded by picturesque ravines and woody mountains, the unique erection is a perfect example of harmony of nature and architecture.

From the former monastery complex only one church is preserved, to the southern and eastern wall of which join the ruins of the vestibule and other buildings.

The church was built in the middle of the XIIc (according to the inscription on the western wall was consecrated in 1151). In the inscriptions it is mentioned as the church of the St.Astvatzatzin (Holy Virgin). The church is built of roughly trimmed and broken limestone of bluish tint (most likely the name comes from here). The church has four side-chapels in the corners, from which windows situated in southern and northern walls light the western two. To the southern and western facades lead two entries of the church.

As the khachkars (in the laying on the drum) of late medieval times show, the dome is a result of consequent reconstruction. Evidence of two or three-layered plaster is preserved on some parts of the walls.

There are many fragments of khachkars with various natural-geometric ornaments in the church. The image of two tangled birds which is preserved on one of the fragments especially stands out. Separately carved heads of two khachkars of XIIc (now broken).

The monastery was surrounded with fortification walls, outside of which there were dwelling erections (not preserved). 50m from the church to the southeast a historical cemetery is situated, three holes preserved to its north.

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