Martiros Saryan – Church of Karmravor

Martiros Saryan – Church of Karmravor

In the city of Ashtarak, Aragatsotn Province, there is the small and beautiful Church of the Holy Mother of God (Surb Astvatsatsin). It was constructed in the 7th century by the priests Manas and Grigor. The church is colloquially known as Karmravor Church, with “karmravor” meaning “reddish” in Armenian.

The cross-domed Church of Karmravor is the only architectural monument in Armenia whose tiled roof has survived to the present day. Such durability has been possible thanks to a reliable method of construction – the tile was first firmly pressed into mortar and then nailed in place.

Along the perimeter of the church walls, a carved-out inscription runs, telling about the inhabitants of the village whose donations it was built on. The inscription also mentions the difficulties encountered during the construction of an irrigation canal.

In the album “Museum of Martiros Saryan” released in 1973 by the publishing house “Soviet painter”, we can find painter Martiros Saryan’s reproduction of the painting “Ashtarak. Church of the 7th century Karmravor.” In the preface, Shahen Khachatryan, a scholar of Saryan’s works, writes about this work:

“At the age of 76, Saryan painted the landscape ‘Ashtarak. Church of the 7th century Karmravor’ in one session. In the background is Mount Aragats, which isn’t there in reality.

The artist included the mountain in the composition to emphasize the connection of simple architectural forms of the building with the shape of the mountain. In the painting, the artist represents the unity of humans, creativity, and nature.”

Hripsime Galstyan

Martiros Saryan. “Ashtarak. Church of VII century Karmravor “, 1956


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