Kirants monastery


The monastery of Kirants (XIIIc) is situated 12km west of the village Kirants in the Tavush district, on the left-bank of the picturesque wooded Kirants River ravine. It consists of three churches, two tunnel-vestibules, a refectory, and remainders of dwelling and auxiliary constructions, encircled in fortified walls with wide vaulted gates. Most of the buildings (churches, tunnel-vestibules) are built of baked tuff (burnt brick) and from this point of view the ensemble presents one of the unique erections of medieval Armenian architecture.

The main church presents two-pylon rectangle domed hall (dimensions 11,04x10,5 m), which in the eastern part closes with half-rounded apse and rectangular side-chapels, built on both sides. There are two entries, from the western and southern sides. The dome leans on hardly lancet arches, connecting the pair pylons and the corner parts of the apse.

On the outside stands out the dome with octahedral drum and a pointed hipped roof which visually stress' the vertical proportions. The drum's edges have pre-wall arches, in the bays of which narrow windows with stretched proportions are situated. The flat areas between the arches are decorated with figured multi-colored tiles, which intensify the artistic impression. The windows have casings, differing by color and volume machining, crowned with a big cross. The eastern fasade also has pair and triangle in cut bays. The main church of Kirants vank, is of a type which originates in the domed basilicas of early medieval times and was widely used in Armenian architecture of the XIIIc. It has great significance in learning the geography of its spread and its compositional peculiarities.

The tunnel-vestibules are in the the shape of vaulted constructions built in front of the entries of the church.

From the southern and western sides of the church small churches with one-nave vaulted halls are built beneath one lean-to roof.

The refectory is situated in the western part of the main church, 10 m distant. It presents a roomy (17,1x9, 5 dimensions) rectangular hall, which is covered with a semicircular vault, strengthened by arches, going up from three pairs of pilasters of longitudinal walls. There probably had been an entry from western side too (the traversal wall did not survive): the refectory has vaulted auxiliary rooms. It is built of torn and half-processed sandstone and cobblestone (the pilasters and the corner stones of entrance openings are clearly trimmed). It appears to be one of the most important monuments of medieval Armenian high-life architecture, the roomiest refectory of similar compositions.

The main church and the refectory were plastered with lime mortar and covered with frescoes inside.

Remainders of dwelling and commercial constructions of the community are preserved on the southern side of the monastery's territory.

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