Noravank Complex

This complex sits on the southern slope of Gnishik River canyon, 3 kilometers to the east of Amaghu village. It was founded in 1105 by Bishop Hovhannes, the abbot of Hovhana monastery, in place of the earlier existing St. Karapet church and St. Pokas chapel.



Momik Vardpet (d. in 1333 ) probably born in the village of Ulgiur (the medieval name of the village is unknown, Ulgiur is a late-period name), was a renowned calligrapher, miniature painter, sculptor and architect from the late 13th - mid14th centuries. 

The names of his parents (Grigor and Avta), son (Askandar) and grandchild (Shatonik) are known.

Momik's brother, sister-in-law and their two sons are buried in the yard of Ulgiur's St. Astvatsatsin (St. Mary's) church.

Momik studied and worked at Gladzor University and later at the metropolitan (archbishopric) residence in Noravank monastery, where he was employed as a painter and architect for the powerful dynasty of Orbelian Princes, carrying out projects commissioned by Orbelian metropolitans.

Momik was a student of the monk Hovasap and in addition to his formidable artistic gifts, he had a deep understanding of religious themes and mastered Greek.

Momik's work

Momik was a leading light of the Gladzor School of miniature painting.  Among his best works are Gospels illustrated in 1292 and 1302 and now preserved in the Matenadaran in Yerevan (manuscripts # 2848, 6792) which demonstrate how skillful he was as a painter, as well as his profound knowledge of pictography and his strive for innovations.

As an architect, Momik demonstrated a unique approach in designing churches (St. Astvatsatsin church at Areni) and developed a completely new approach for the church called “Burtelashen” at Noravank, with a two-story crowned rotunda.

Tatev Monastery's St. Grigor Lusavorich Church commissioned by Stepanos Orbelian and several other churches are attributed to Momik.

In his works Momik placed the word “vardpet” by his name, denoting his skill as an architect, but he was also a renowned sculptor.

His famous works are bas-reliefs at Areni and Noravank, especially those in the gavit of St. Stepanos Nakhavka Church (St. Steven Protomartyr) - the scene depicting God the Father is exceptional. 

At Noravank he carved elaborate khachkars with exquisite patterns; they are now exhibited in museums at St. Etchmiadzin and Yeghegnadzor.  

The small khachkar (cross-stone) erected in Momik's memory at Noravank bears the following inscription: “May Christ remember and have mercy on Momik's soul.” The upper part of the inscription reads ՉՁԲ  which in old style calendar means 1333, i.e. the year the khachkar was carved. 

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    How to reach Noravank monastery is located 122 km from Yerevan. Take M2 highway from Yerevan and as soon as you get to Areni village turn to the right.


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