Kobayravank, the Pearl of the Debed Canyon

Kobayravank, the Pearl of the Debed CanyonOn the high slopes of the Debed Canyon and on the slopes of the basalt Lori mounts with completely bare tops and grass-covered foothills stands a gorgeous architectural complex of antique religious significance. It is located 10 km south of the town of Alaverdi in Lori Province, Armenia.

Kobayravank (also known as Kobayr Monastery) was built by the princesses of the Armenian dynasty of Kiurikians, a branch of the Armenian Bagratuni dynasty, in the 11th century. Kobayravank continued to belong to Kiurikians until the late 12th – early 13th century.

The monks of Kobayravank have been actively engaged in the life of the Armenian Church because in late 12th century arose the question of the legality of church attire and other utensils. The archbishop of Tarsus Nerses Lambronatsi mentioned the participation of Kobayravank’s monks in the movement in a letter to Cilician King Leo II (sometimes numbered Leo III). Nerses also complained that the monks of Ani, Akhtala, and Kobayr had criticized him.

By the middle of the 13th century, the male line of Kiurikians was cut off. Kobayravank became the domain of the Zakarid family, though it seems that this happened before the cessation of the Kiurikian male line.

Kobayravank consists of three churches, a chapel, as well as khachkars (cross-stones) within the bounds of the fortress walls. The main temple is a hall church called Katoghike, the walls of which are covered with beautiful frescos. This church reached us in a dilapidated condition. The church of Katoghike was built in 1171.

At the initiative of a local monk named Grigori, the monastery was enhanced with multiple extensions, as well as with frescos in 1276 – 1282. By the order of Zakarids, a belfry was built in 1279, which would later become their family tomb.

The main structures of Kobayravank relate to the 12th-14th centuries. Several centuries after its establishment, the monastery was severely damaged by an earthquake, leading to the abandonment of the monastery.

In the 17th-18th centuries, the monastery was reopened. Now, its territory only houses fragments of the belfry-tomb, a refectory, a vestibule, a smaller church, as well as a cemetery.

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