We were aware of the existence of the Church of Surb Astvatsatsin – a significant Medieval monastic complex – built in 1031 by Grigor Magistros as an episcopal residence with the right to elect the Catholicos. Likewise, we knew about the Church of Surb Sarkis – a church built in the 7th century, and a church that is considered the smallest in Armenia.
However, the church of Surb Gevorg (13th century) was a surprise for us.
The basilica with wooden beams and columns appears to be older than it is – it resembles the earliest churches.
Pay attention to its capital – it is carved with painted ornaments and is surprisingly well preserved for its age.
In the last photos, local boys are playfully battling each other near the Surb Gevorg church.
The monastery of Surb Astvatsatsin in Bjni used to be the home of magnificent master stone cutters. Here are a few cross-stones (khachkars) from behind the church.
The last photo shows a khachkar from 1580 crafted by the famous master Melikset. Many consider this creation one of the most beautiful cross-stones, ranking it alongside the cross-stones of Poghos in Goshavank and a pair of cross-stones from Dadivank.