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.


St. Karapet Church Ruins

This small 9th c. basilica church, which today lies in ruins, is attached to the southern wall of the surviving St. Stepanos Nakhav’ka church. The basilica is the oldest structure in the complex, and its remains include a three step platform, traces of three arches that once supported a vaulted roof and a southern antechamber.

The basilica was very small; no more than a handful of monks would have been able to fit into the space at any given time, suggesting that it was reserved primarily for the clergy.

A number of old gravestones surround the church. One noticeable stone, dedicated to a man named Sargis, shows a prone lion symbolizing the bravery of the deceased in battle. The inscription reads:

“Here rests Sargis, like a victorious lion in battle, a son of Palka. May he be remembered in my prayers”.


There are some exquisitely carved khachkars (stone crosses) and khachkar fragments in front of the old church. The elaborate khachkars at Noravank include masterpiece works by Momik and his students and are considered among the best Armenian carvings from Armenia's medieval period.

Khachkars hold a special place in Armenian worship because they were venerated by pilgrims. The iconography of khachkars is specific and unique, and some combine the central cross with a tree of life or geometric patterning.

Some khachkars were dedicated to the Holy Mother of God, St. Sargis, St. Gevorg, St. Poghos, St. Petros, St. Stepanos, St. Hovhannes, and St. Grigor.

Following this tradition khachkars dedicated to the Holy Mother of God were meant to sustain families and mothers, those dedicated to St. Grigor were believed to give strength and courage to soldiers, while All-Savior (Amenaprkich) khachkars were believed to cure various ailments.

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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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