Kecharis monastery complex


The monastery complex of Kecharis is situated in Tzakhkadzor (Gorge of Flowers). A healthy climate and picturesque scenery - forested mountain slopes and blossoming valleys - provided favorable conditions for building there a settlement in which remnants of ancient structures have survived. In the 11th century the settlement was a possession of the Princes Pakhlavuni who founded a monastery there, the construction of which continued till the middle of the 13th century. In the 12th-13th centuries Kecharis was a major religious center of Armenia which had a higher school.

The main group of the complex consists of three churches, two chapels and a vestibule, to the west of which, quite a distance away, there was another church with its own vestibule at the side of a road leading to the forest.

The main temple, the church of St.Grigory, is the monastery’s first structure erected by Grigor Magistros Pakhlavuni in 1003. Being of a domed hall type, it is one of the typical church structures of the period of developed feudalism in Armenia.

The church of Surb Nshan, situated south of the church of Grigory, is a small cross-winged domed structure erected, judging by the type of the building and by architectural details, in the 11th century, probably soon after the former temple.

The Catoghike (Cathedral) church stands south of this one, with a narrow passage dividing them. Judging by an inscription, it was built under Prince Vasak Khakhpakyan or Proshyan (in the first quarter of the 13th century) by the architect (varpet) Vetsik, in whose memory a khachkar, ornamented with highly artistic carving, was put up a little to the south of this building.

The vestibule, built in the second half of the 12th century and attached to the western facade of Grigory church, is an early structure of this type. The eastern corners of the interior are taken up by small two-storey side-chapels which first appeared in the vestibule-type structures in Kecharis.

The chapel adjacent to the church of Grigory served as the burial vault of Grigor Magistros Pakhlavuni, which means that it was built in the early 11th century.

The church of Harutyun, standing on a forest glade, away from the main group, was built in 1220. The only entrance, with a small vestibule in front of it, is from the west. There are many graves in the church which was probably a family burial vault.

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