The Monastery of Bardzrakash St. Gregory in Dsegh, Armenia, is one of the 11 monuments and sites that have been shortlisted for “The 7 Most Endangered” 2014 program. This program was produced by Europa Nostra, a leading European heritage organization, and the European Investment Bank.
Built between the 10th and 13th centuries, this monastic complex is dedicated to St. Gregory, the first Catholicos of the Armenian Church. The ruins of the main buildings with no roofs and encroached on by vegetation lie in a deep verdant gorge located in the picturesque cultural landscape of the village of Dsegh.
The restoration of the monument is viewed to be capable of helping to establish Dsegh as a tourism center, as well as of supporting the boost of the local economy. However, this can only be accomplished through international support, and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia thus nominated the monument for the “The 7 Most Endangered” 2014 program.
In 2014, public bodies and civil organizations from European countries submitted their nominations for the program. While the Monastery of Bardzrakash St. Gregory was shortlisted for the 11 sites, it wasn’t chosen to be one of the 7 final sites. The final list of 7 sites was selected by the Board of Europa Nostra on May 5, 2014, at the House of Europe in Vienna. The Board was comprised of high-level representatives from Europa Nostra and the EIB Institute.
Europa Nostra provided the following description of the monastery:
The remains of this monastic complex consist of a remarkable collection of medieval buildings, dating from the 10th to the 13th centuries, in the cultural landscape of the village of Dsegh, birthplace and setting of the writings of Hovhannes Tumanyan, considered by many to be Armenia’s national poet.
Deep in a verdant gorge, the remains of the monastery, dedicated to the first official head of the Armenian Church, include the Church of St. Gregory (10th century), the three-nave basilica of Sourb Astvatsatsin (1221), its narthex with delicately carved reliefs (1247), the Chapel of Sourb Harutiun (1234), and the Mamikonians’ cemetery. These ruins are in a deeply vulnerable state, not only from the encroaching jungle but also from destructive looting.
It is proposed that the undergrowth that is causing movement in the structures be removed, and preliminary conservation measures be taken as a matter of urgency to stabilize the ruins, alongside an effective drainage system and excavation where necessary. The longer-term vision is to see the establishment of Dsegh as a center for tourism within the area, using the cultural landscape and the ruins of the monastery of Bardzrakash St. Gregory as a means of boosting the local economy.
Below, you can see several pictures of the monastery.