Noratus is an ancient Armenian settlement located in the Gegharkunik Province, Armenia, on the right bank of Gavaraget River, in 4 km from the town of Gavar. In the 16th century, Noratus was the residence of Armenian meliks (princes).
Now, the village boasts the biggest collection of khachkars in Armenia. In fact, after the government of Azerbaijan had destroyed a multitude of khackars in Julfa (formerly Jugha), Noratus became the biggest “museum” of khachkars in the world.
Most of the khackars feature a big cross with a sun disk beneath. The rest of the monuments is decorated with images of leaves, bunches of grapes, pomegranates, and other patterns. The majority of the Noratus khachkars is dated at the 13-15th centuries, but the oldest khachkar was carved in the 5th century.
In the center of the settlement resides the 9th-century Surb Astvatsatsin Church. It was destroyed by Persians in the 14th century, renovated in the 15th century, and eventually razed by Tamerlane. Now, only the ruins of the church remain.
An inscription on the church tells us that it was built by one Sahak of Gegharkunik. Constructed from large, clean-hewn stones, the Surb Astvatsatsin Church belongs to the crossed-dome architectural style. According to another inscription, the oldest khachkar in the territory of the church dates back to 996.
On the southern outskirts of Noratus is another crossed-dome temple, the Surb Grigor Lusavorich Church. According to an inscription on its eastern wall, the church was erected in the 10th century. In the 13th century, two sacristies were added to the church.