Aparank Monastery’s name derives from the Armenian word “aparank”, meaning “fortress”. While it is unknown what the purpose of the monastery had been initially, it is known that in the 19th century, it was the episcopal center of the Terkan district, which included 34 Armenian villages. In fact, most of the monastery’s buildings belong to that time period. The ruins of the monastery are now located in Erzincan Province (formerly Yerznka), Turkey, 15 km southwest of the town of Terkan.
Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, a Spanish diplomat and traveler, wrote about the city of Yerznka back in the early 15th century. “This city was built by Armenians: stone walls spread throughout it contain carved-out crosses. Every house in the city has a terrace, which people often use as sidewalks. The city is highly populated and has many beautiful streets and alleyways with many shops. This city is very rich and is engaged in expansive trade.”
Most of the monastic complex is protected by tall walls. Since those walls don’t have any towers and parapets, it is clear that they haven’t been built for protection but rather to make the complex complete.
The entrance to the monastery is located in the northern section of the wall. Another entrance could have been located in the western section, but this can’t be determined as only the ruins of the western wall stand today.
Mulberry trees can be seen on the terrace in front of the western wall. The northern end of the terrace features the remains of a structure with a peaked arch, which probably used to be a fountain.
The 17th-century Surb Hovhannes Church, once the main temple of the monastery, is located in the middle of the southern section of Aparank. The Surb Hovhannes Church is one of the few churches that haven’t been turned into mosques. The church was built in the cross-in-square architectural style with four columns supporting the low dome. The church is built from raw stone, and its walls used to be covered with plaster. On the other hand, the floor of the church is built from carefully hewn stones. The southern end of the church features an annex, the purpose of which is unknown, even though such annexes are typical for contemporary Armenian churches. In Armenia, similar churches have been especially popular back in the 17th century.
Aparank Monastery also includes the Saint David Chapel, a rectangular structure with one arch-shaped nave. The chapel was clearly built from recycled stones as they contain older sculptural fragments, as well as inscriptions. The inscription above the chapel’s entrance reads that one David is buried here, in honor of whom the chapel received its name.
Nearby stand two unique 6-meter-tall khachkars (cross-stones), one dated to 1191 and the other to 1194. Another, smaller khachkar lies right next to the large ones, surrounded by fragments of other khachkars.
Ապարանք Ապրանից Վանք Երզնկա , Aparanq Apranits Monastery Erzincan Turkey , Апранк Ерзнка