Khoranashat Monastery is located northeast of the village of Chinari in the Tavush Province of Armenia. It was founded by Vanakan Vardapet (archimandrite Vanakan) with the support of the Vahramyan princes in the first half of the 13th century.
The monastery complex includes the churches of Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) and Surb Kiraki (Holy Resurrection), as well as a chapel, monastic cells, and two cemeteries. Walls also used to tower around the complex.
The main building of the monastery complex, the church of Surb Astvatsatsin, was built in 1211-1222. The church has a domed hall, but it differs significantly from other buildings of its type. The main difference is the atypical shape of the altar – it’s rather wide and has a semicircular shape with 14 niches. On both sides of the altar apse are two-story aisles. Stairs from the altar lead to the second floor, the walls of which are decorated with originally interwoven patterns in the form of rhombuses and hexagons.
The porch (built in 1222-1240) adjoins the church from the west. This porch is a centric building with four columns. Its eastern wall and the altar apse of the main church are decorated with twelve niches, one of which is also the church entrance.
Of particular interest is the roof of the porch. It is supported by 3 pairs of arches, which, crossing in its central part, form a six-winged star.
In the southern part of the monastery is the small domed church of Surb Kiraki (13th century). In its eastern part, you can see the ruins of a chapel and a medieval cemetery where there is a large winged ornamented khachkar (assumed to be the tombstone to the founder of the monastery Vanakan Vardapet) and numerous tombstones.
Khoranashat was one of the major educational, scientific, cultural, and theological centers of medieval Armenia. Famous historian Grigor Aknertsi, outstanding Armenian philosopher Vardan Areveltsi, Catholicos Grigor Akhtamartsi, and others have worked as professors here.
In the monastery which has once been a hub of Armenian writing, priceless manuscripts were created, most of which are stored today in Matenadaran (Institute of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan). Among them are manuscripts of Narekatsi’s “Book of Lamentations”, “Narek”, “Mashtots”, etc. A Gospel which had been supposedly created in ancient Artsakh and Utik was rewritten in the monastery as well. This Gospel is unique in that the Last Supper described here has no analogues in detail and vividness. Now, this Gospel is kept in the German city of Halle.
Khoranashat Monastery is located on the border with Azerbaijan in a combat zone. The temple’s locked doors open only once a year, on May 2, when residents of neighboring villages gather in the church to attend the liturgy and commemorate the departed (2013).
Original Russian article prepared by Natalia Ghukasyan Photos: Wikipedia