Christian architectonics of Armenia is a unique national form of architecture. Unlike some of the preserved monuments of the pre-Christian era with traces of Assyrian-Babylonian, Greek, and Roman architecture, Armenian Christian architectural art is completely original.
At the same time, some historians and art critics argue that Armenian Christian architecture is a prototype of modern Gothic style, which has been developing in Europe during middle and late Middle Age.
Cathedrals of ancient Ani
According to a French historian, architect, and archaeologist Charles Texier and Polish-Austrian art critic Joseph Strygowski, after a lengthy investigation of cathedrals in the medieval Armenian capital city of Ani, researchers concluded that they had discovered the oldest Gothic arch.
These historians assume that the architecture of the St. Hripsime Church located in the vicinity of the religious center in Etchmiadzin was built in the 4th century. It was additionally renovated in 618. It is noted that the church was built in a style that would later become known as Romanesque.
The Ani Cathedral was built in ca. 980-1012 in Gothic style. This allowed scholars to conclude that this style was adopted and then used in Marseille as well as various European cities.
French historian Charles Diehl agrees that the impact of Armenian architecture on Byzantine architectonics is evident. Besides, he argued that the origin of Byzantine-Roman style could be traced to Armenia.
European cathedrals with Armenian Gothic architecture
According to further statements of Strygowski, German Aachen Cathedral, Hermine de Pre Cathedral nearby Orleans, France, built in 86 AD, and the Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican do not have traces of Byzantine architecture, rather featuring touches of Armenian architecture. Strygowski also discovered the impact of Armenian art on Crete, in Dalmatia, and coastal regions of Italy.
Sir Austen Henry Layard, a prominent British archaeologist, also stated that the European Gothic style was brought by Arabs and Crusaders from Armenia.
Gothic, Saracen, and Mauritanian architecture
British geologist of the 19th century William John Hamilton, who has conducted expansive research in Asia Minor and Ponte, as well as in whole Armenia, made a one step further. According to him, not only the Gothic style could be traced to Armenia but Saracen and Mauritanian architecture as well.
Henry Blosse Lynch, the author of a two-volume book about the architecture of the Akhtamar Cathedral in Van published in 1901, states that here can be noticed the impact of Armenian architecture on ancient Assyrian-Babylonian art, as well as Saracen and Mauritanian architecture. Lynch considered the Cathedral of St Saba in Georgia a fine example of the Armenian style. This cathedral was built in 1334 by Armenian architect Atabeg Sarkis.
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