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Home :: Attractions :: Gandzasar Monastery
Gandzasar Monastery
Gandzasar is a walled abbey with both ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical buildings, the centerpiece of which is the Cathedral of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich ( St. John the Baptist), a large church with a cupola in the inscribed cross plan.The foundations of the Cathedral were laid in 1216 by Prince Hasan Jalal Vahtangian, a powerful Armenian feudal lord who referred to himself as Grand Prince, Prince of Princes and King. Prince Hasan Jalal relates to one of the most ancient aristocratic families in world history—the Arranshahiks—who ruled eastern Armenian lands since early medieval times, if not well before.
First records about the Gandzasar Monastery go back to the tenth century. In his encyclical titled “On the Rebellion of the House of Aghvank,”Anania Mokatsi (reigned from 946-968), Katholicos of All Armenians, writes that in order to resolve disputes which arose in 949 due to differing interpretations of the Holy Trinity, he “ordered to hold an assembly in the province of Khachen, with the participation of priests and nobility.” Katholicos Anania mentions among the invited “Father Sargis, a monk from Gandzasar.” The same Father Sargis, apparently an important churchman of his time, was noted by the Armenian historian Stepanos Orbelian in his “History of the Land of Sisakan.”
Several monastic churches in Artsakh from this period adopted the model used most widely throughout Armenia: a cathedral with a cupola in the inscribed cross plan with two or four angular chambers. Examples include the three largest and most complex monasteries of Artsakh: Dadivank (1214-1237), Gandzasar (1216-1261) and Gtichavank (1241-1246).
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