Gndevank Monastery

According to historian Stepanos Orbelian, the monastery was built in the 10th c. for Princess Sophia of Syunik, who appointed Priest Sargis as the abbot and artist Yeghishe Priest as the head of the construction.

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Gavit

The gavit was added to the west wall of the church in 999, under the supervision of Abbot Kristapor. The vaulted building is unique for not being a square and for having a second, narrow area that juts to the north, covered with a lower sloping roof from the main hall. 

The gavit roof is supported by vaulting resting on transverse arches supported in turn by wall columns and a row of arches at an east-west axis, supported by low thick columns to the north. Signs of painting on the various wall carvings can still be seen, red being the most popular (or most likely to survive the ravages of time). 

A dark, narrow room is made from the northern row of arches and wall piers further north, supporting a low vaulted roof.  Its use is unknown but  presumably was used as a work or storage space.

The main room has an open window at the eastern end, over a small white khachkar and the tympanum for the church doorway.  The tympanum bears an inscription attributing the 1309 (new style calendar) renovation of the monastery and walls to Vardapet Kristapor.  It reads in part:

 

“…  I, Petros Vardapet, completely renovated this Surb Yekeghetsi, and put a wall around it, in the year 999, as a memory for the souls of myself and my parents … Jesus Christ bless us …”

 

There are a couple of fine khachkars in the gavit, on the eastern wall. The one on the left is carved from red stone, with great detail in the framing and a top inscription.  The right khachkar is striking; carved from white stone with a highly detailed sun symbol under the cross. The carving is deeply cut, looking like crocheted thread rather than solid stone. 

Outside the gavit there a number of beautiful khachkars, and an interesting medieval tombstone carving showing a hunter seated on a horse, his arrow pulled across the bow, aimed at two fighting bucks. 

Just by it a white felsite khachkar leaning against the gavit wall, with eight crosses (the number 8 standing for the beginning of life, or the resurrection) and beautifully carved geometric squares at the top and center of the stone.

Opposite is a very old ram stone, hallmark of the pre-Christian era (Bronze-Iron Age), which was emulated by Turkic tribes in the 13th c. This may be from either age, though it bears signs of being of the older type.  


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    Working period/season Year around

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    How to reach There are two ways to reach Gndevank, both are roads leading to Jermuk. If you take the new highway to Jermuk, you will have to exit into the village of Gndevaz, and hike down the canyon (approx 45 minutes down) to reach the monastery.

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