Shkhmuradi church

1181 y.

The monastery complex Shkhmuradi is situated 6km SW of the village Tzaghkavan in Tavush district, in a picturesque valley of Hakhum River, on the left bank's woody slope. It is an excellent example of combining architecture with nature. It is thought that the monument got its name from a nearby settlement. The ensemble was built in XII-XIIIcc. The complex consists of the church St.Astvatzatzin (Holy Virgin), two vestibules, and an erection called «Khoranik». The ruins and the signs of chapels and auxiliary constructions are preserved in the environs.

The church of the Holy Virgin is the main erection of the ensemble. It is built in the middle of the XIIIc from local clearly trimmed yellowish porous stone. In the eastern part the main apse is situated and there are two-storied side-chapels on both sides. The church has two entries, which open in the vestibules situated in western and southern sides. The western portal has setting of complicated profile, into which from both sides of the entry khachkars were put, but didn’t preserve.

There are khachkars in other places of inside and outside walls too. The frontal part of the stage is encrusted by three swastikas (part of the third swastika is missing) surrounded by fretwork frame.

The big vestibule is situated in the western part of the complex, erected in the second half of XIIIc. The entrance to the vestibule opens from the western part of southern wall. The church and the vestibule join the rocks with northern walls.

The small vestibule joins the southern wall of the church. It was built later, probably in the last quarter of XIIIc. It is a clearly trimmed, square in scheme (7.0x7.0m) erection. The entry was from west.

Khoranik is situated in the eastern part of the complex and its entry opens to the small vestibule. In partly preserved walls longitudinal canals can be seen, in which were put logs, which gave the construction seismic-protection. According to the building inscription of the western wall (dated by Hovhannes Sarkavag), Khoranik was built in 1149 - in fact it’s the most ancient erection of the ensemble. The construction got its name from the word «zkhoraniks» that was in the inscription too.

The Shkhmuradi complex was partly restored to life in XVIIc, evidenced by the signs of restoration on the monuments and the dated khachkars of the complex. The khachkar with images of human figures placed by the southern entry is especially notable.

To the northwest of the complex, on top of gigantic roof, are preserved the ruins of the cyclopic fortress Kal-Kar of VI BC. to IV AC. Some kilometers to west on the way to the ensemble are the remainders of settlements (Khtchaghbyur, Karagegh, Spitak Jur) in the environs of which are situated the ruins of medieval chapel.

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