Vahanavank Monastery

This monastery is located 5km south-west of Kapan town, 1.4 km south of Shgharshik district (historic Shekq village). Built over a Bronze Age grave field (13th-11th CC. BCE) it is nestled in the foothills of Mt. Tigranasar on the right bank of the Voghji River, the area covered with lush forests.

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Vahanavank Monastery

Vahanavank Monastery

This monastery is located 5km south-west of Kapan town, 1.4 km south of Shgharshik district (historic Shekq village). Built over a Bronze Age grave field (13th-11th CC. BCE) it is nestled in the foothills of Mt. Tigranasar on the right bank of the Voghji River, the area covered with lush forests.

Vahanavank was mentioned by the 13th c. historian Stepanos Orbelian, with some valuable historic facts found in different inscriptions carved on the monuments. According to Orbelian, the construction of the domed St Grigor Lusavorich church was completed in 911 by Vahan, younger son of ruling prince Dzagik of Baghk (district in Siunik) and through the support of his brother and heir to the throne Jevansher. Vahan picked a flat shelf of land nearby Baghaberd castle as the location of the future structure. The seminary set up later attracted young people from different parts of Siunik. The name of the monastery is attributed to its founder, Father Superior Vahan I Nakhashinogh Dzagikian. His nephew, Vahan II Jevanshirian, (future Catholicos of All Armenians Vahan I Siunetsi, 968-969). succeeded him and, according to Stepanos Orbelian, commissioned a gavit (930s), a portico, refectory and an arched gate with two chapels dedicated to Apostols St. Paul and Peter. 

Vahanavank housed a family sepulcher for the royalty of Siunik and Aghvank, with the monastery floors paved with the gravestones of Vahan Nakhashinogh (10th c.), ruling prince Jevansher (10th c.), Prince of Princes Ashotik (11 c.), his sons, kings Smbat II (died in 1051) and Grigor I (died in 1072), princess Kata (11 c.), Kiurike, the son of Senekerim King of Siunik (died in 1099), Hranush, daughter of King Davit Anhoghin of Tashir Dzoraget, Sevada King of Aghvank and Queen Sopi (died in 1081), their daughter Kata (died after 1086), Stepanos Catholicos of Aghvank (died in 1091) and father superiors and congregation members. Queen Shahandukht II who died in 1116 is also reported to have been buried here.  

Excavations at the site began in 1966, during which the main monuments were uncovered, along with new structures, numerous stones used in the construction, architectural details, inscribed khachkar-gravestones and fragments, glazed and ungazed pieces of pottery of different colors and sizes, tombs dated to the 13th-11th cc. BCA, fragments of Arabic coins and 15 intact coins attributed to Seljuks and Mongols. Vahanavank is a unique example of Armenian architectural complexes having special significance.  


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