Glkho Monastery – Talish, Artsakh

Glkho Monastery – Talish, ArtsakhGlkho Monastery (otherwise known as Orek, also referred to as Urekavank or Orekavank in ancient accounts) is located on the slopes of one of the mounts beyond the village of Talish in Martakert District of the Republic of Artsakh. Historian Movses Khorenatsi writes that the monastery was established in the 5th century.

Over the centuries of its existence, the monastery has been repeatedly ruined and rebuilt. The monastic complex consists of a church, a vestibule, a bell tower, a large cemetery, and a number of ruined buildings. The inscription on the tympanum on the doorway of the church states that the complex was rebuilt in 1279 by priests Stepanos and Hovhannes.

The church belongs to the one-nave basilica architectural style. Its arched ceiling is supported directly by its walls. The church features a square bema with an ancient crypt beneath, both of which had been built before the said reconstruction. On the other hand, there are no traces of more antique architectural structures in other sections of the church. It should be noted that friezes and capitals from the former buildings were used in the reconstruction. Overall, the church features very modest ornamentation.

The vestibule of the monastery was built in 1248 by Hovhannes, as testified by the inscription on the doorway’s tympanum. The vestibule consists of a square hall with an arched ceiling. The vestibule has also served as a tomb for clergymen of various positions. Gravestones with numerous ornaments and inscriptions bearing artistic and historic value have also been discovered at the site. A small 17th-century bell tower adjoins the vestibule from the west.

The walls of both the church and the vestibule are decorated by numerous khachkars (cross-stones). Other khachkars are also scattered throughout the monastic complex. Mostly created after the 11th century, these cross-stones feature images of horsemen, priests, as well as geometrical ornaments.

The large cemetery of the monastery is full of richly ornamented gravestones. The gravestones of the participants of the Armenian national liberation movement are especially well-preserved. Among them is the gravestone of Shamir-khan, the chief of staff of Yermolov’s army, the secretary and translator of a poet and diplomat Griboyedov, as well as a member of the Armenian delegation participating at the signing of the Treaty of Gulistan in 1831. Many gravestones are also dedicated to the princely dynasty of Melik-Beglaryans.

The monastic complex is surrounded by fortress walls. Near them stand both intact and dilapidated buildings, which people called “pateri tak”, meaning “under the walls.”

Natalia Ghukasyan

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