The monastic complex Vanavank is located in the vicinity of the town of Kapan, Syunik Province, Armenia. According to Stepanos Orbelian, the monastery was founded by prince Vahan in 911, in honor of whom it would also be named. The first structure of the monastery was the Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator.
After the passing of Vahan (who would be buried in the monastery), his nephew Vahan built a vestibule, a refectory, and a column hall in the monastery. The rectangular vestibule adjoined the church from its western side. The interior cornices were decorated with geometrical and floral ornaments. The roof of the vestibule was supported by three horseshoe-shaped arches. The center arch was ruined in an earthquake, which resulted in a severe damage of the monastery.
In 1086, Syunik princess Shahandukht together with her sister Kata built a two-level church-tomb Surb Astvatsatsin (Church of Saint Mother of God) in close vicinity to the main church of the monastery. The church was built from smoothly hewn reddish basalt.
In the column hall stretching along the whole length of the church and the vestibule, a number of tombstones with inscriptions dating to the 10th-11th centuries were found. Kings, princes, high-ranking clergymen, and nobles of Syunik are buried here.
Judging by lithographic data found in the monastery, there used to be two other churches named Surb Harutyun and Surb Sion in Vahanavank.
In 1966, archaeological excavations were carried out in the territory of Vahanavank, which at the time was nearly completely covered by ground. Renovation works began in 1969 under architect Artur Meschyan. In 1978, the restoration works of one of the churches were headed by Yuliy Tamanyan, son of a renowned Armenian architect Aleksandr Tamanyan. The column hall was partially restored in 2006 – 2009. Apart from that, the vestibule of the monastery and the Church of Saint Gregory the Illuminator were fully renovated.