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Home :: Attractions :: Khor Virap Monastic Complex
Khor Virap Monastic Complex
The citadel was at the site of the protected monastery, which housed the underground prison Virap Artashatou. It served as a court detention cell. Convicts were thrown into a deep ditch filled with snakes and poisonous insects. According to historian Agatangeghos, the Armenian Patriarch Gregory the Illuminator suffered for 13 years here. By divine intent he remained alive by the help of a Christian woman. It is believed that secretly from the guardians, the woman threw a loaf of bread into the ditch at the behest of Trdat III's sister Khosrovdoukht.

In 642, Catholicos Nerses III built a chapel on the Holy Ditch, which resembled Zvartnots. In 1660s, Vardapet Davit Virapetsi built a new chapel at the site of the ruined one. This latter chapel has survived till our days.

 There is a vaulted hall with two-sloped roof on that ditch. The 25 vertiqal metal steps on the right side of the Chasm of Suffering was named after St. Gregory the Illuminator. On its ceiling from the eastern side one may see the hole from where the window fed Gregory.

In 1668, the main Church St. Astvatsatsin was built in the courtyard of the monastery. It was, however, destroyed by earthquake in 1679 and later restored by Father Davit Virapetsi. The church is a domed hall with a rectangular plan. The Belfry is attached from the west. The multi-figure bas-relief sculpture on its eastern façade symbolizes the victory of Christianity in Armenia

Khor Virap is the best example of a monastic fortress that combines the religious and defense ideas of XVIIc. Khor virap is the cradle of Armenian faith. It has retained the old meaning of the famous sanctuary. It opens a magnificent panorama of Mount Ararat alongside the luminous flow of the River Arax.

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