Sevanavank (also known as “Mariamashen” or “built by Mariam”) sits on the peninsula east of Sevan City.



The complex consists of Sts. Arakelots and Karapet churches, a ruined gavit (narthex) and a partially reconstructed area for monk cells.  Another church, St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God), and its gavit no longer exist. 

Above the lower complex are the foundations for the 4th century St. Harutiun church.  They are all situated on the southwest side of the hill.  Other foundations show the outer and inner walls of the complex and the outline of residential and office quarters for the monastery staff.

Princess Mariam and Sevanavank

Up to the 9th century the monastery largely consisted of two churches, the small St. Karapet (John the Baptist) and the large triple nave St. Harutiun (Church of the Resurrection), believed to have been established by Grigor Lusavorich on top of a Pagan temple in 305. 

Beginning with the ninth century reign of Ashot I Bagratuni and continuing two hundred years, Bagratuni largess went into renovating and building new churches and monasteries, and Sevanavank was no exception.

Historians write that Princess Mariam, the daughter of Ashot I, widowed while still young and resolved to dedicate her life to piety decided to commission 30 churches in memory of her husband, Prince Vasak Gabur of the Siunik Family.

Seeking guidance, Mariam visited Sevanavank and met with the monastery's father superior and future Catholicos Mashtots Yeghivardetsi (Mashtots of Yeghvard). 

She agreed to pay to reconstruct and enlarge the monastery on the (then) island, adding St. Arakelots and St. Astvatsatsin churches.  Other structures included monk cells, auxiliary buildings and a gavit for St. Astvatsatsin, its roof supported by four wooden columns. Two columns with elaborately carved capitals are on display at the State History Museum in Yerevan.

St. Karapet

The small church of St. Karapet is a domed cruciform type with three apses set inside the cross form, the building largely rebuilt in the late 9th century.  The three apse design is also called a “trefoil,” borrowed from gothic architecture in which the center of the church takes the form of a three-lobed leaf (formed from three partially-overlapping circles). 

The southwest entrance is framed with an arch, the simplicity of its design echoing that on other buildings in the complex.


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    How to reach Sevanavank is about 1 hour northeast of Yerevan. Take the M-4 highway to the peninsula, then follow our signs to the parking lot, and climb the steps to the monastery complex.

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