Monastic Complex Shkhmuradi, Armenia

Shkhmuradi monastery has been built during 12th-13th centuries in valley of Varagadzhur river, and now is located in 6 km from village Tsaghkavan (also known as Melikgyugh) in Tavush province, Armenia.

Monastic complex includes a church, a chapel, and two vestibules. The monastery probably received its name after nearby commune Shkhmurad (Shkhmuradi meaning of Shkhmurad).

The main church of the monastery was built of gray felsite in 1181. It is of cross-in-square architectural type. It has one main and four small altars.

On both sides of the main altar are two-storied sacrariums. The church has western and eastern entrances. External decoration of the church is quite modest.

Walls of the church contain partly erased inscriptions. The dome of the church is cylindrical.

The church has eastern and western vestibules. Western vestibule is a square hall decorated with octahedral columns, and was built in the first half 13th century. The other vestibule was added later at the end of 13th century, and is pretty much the same besides the absence of columns.

Not far from the church is the dilapidated chapel of the monastery named Khoranik. According to an inscription on its western wall, it was built before the main church in 1149.

The monastery has been surrounded by walls which are now destroyed. The monastery is rich with khachkars which can be found not only inside the monastery, but near Tsaghkavan as well.

Some of the steles are not common to Armenian architecture and are more similar to Celtic monuments. One of those can be seen to the east of the village near collapsed mass of ground.

Today Shkhmuradi monastic complex is completely abandoned, though it is well preserved partly because of a renovation in 17th century.

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