Oshakan Monastery – Ashtarak, Armenia

Oshakan Monastery – Ashtarak, Armenia

Oshakan is a village 3 km southeast of the town of Ashtarak. According to a legend, Noah and his family descended from the top of Mount Masis (Ararat) and saw Oshakan freed from the water. At its sight, they exclaimed “Oshakan,” which roughly translates as “Marvel for the eyes.”

Located within the estates of Arshakids (an Armenian royal dynasty), the village of Oshakan was their property.

Mesrop Mashtots, the creator of the Armenian alphabet and founder of the Armenian-language school and literature, is buried in Oshakan.

Mashtots was born in 361/362 in the village of Hatsekats, Taron Province, into a family of a builder named Vardan.

In 394, Mashtots became a priest teacher. Accompanied by his students, he preached in various fields and promoted Christian teachings.

Mashtots also translated the Bible into Armenian. His translation is widely considered the best in the world.

After Mashtots’ death, commander Vahan Amatuni and colonel Hmayak Mamikonyan transported his body to Oshakan. Three years later, in 443, Vahan Amatuni built a chapel there. As a sign of deep respect and reverence for Mashtots, Catholicos Hovsep I Hoghotsmetsi instructed Koryun (a student of Mashtots) to write about the life and activity of the great teacher.

In 1875-79, Catholicos Gevorg IV built a church on the site of the old chapel. Under the altar of the church is the crypt of a teacher. A bell tower of cylindrical shape was added to the eastern side of the chapel in 1884.

In Armenian architecture, this structure is unique both in location and design. In the 1960s, artist G. Minasyan created a fresco inside the church, further emphasizing its uniqueness.

A monument was erected at the entrance to Oshakan in 1962 to the 1600th anniversary of Mashtots’ birthday. The monument consists of two plates shaped like a book, and the Armenian alphabet is carved on the left page. Here, international symposiums and seminars are often held – in particular, events for the “Translator’s Day”.

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