Vorotnavank Monastery

The current structure consists of 2 churches, the gavit, auxiliary structures, the graveyard with tombstones and elaborate khachkars and the outer wall.


Vorotnavank Monastery

This monastery complex is also referred to as St. Karapet Avag Vank, Karmir Vank (Red Monastery) and Vaghadni St. Karapet. Located at the edge of the Vorotan River Canyon, Vorotnavank was a famous center of calligraphy and a pilgrimage site.

According to the 13th c. historian Stepanos Orbelian, the oldest church in the complex St. Grigor (currently in ruins) was commissioned in the early 4th c. by Gregory the Illuminator and later rebuilt by Stepanos the Hermit. In the Early Middle Ages the church was known for its power to treat snakebite.

Theologian, philosopher and professor Hovhan Vorotnetsi left Gladzor University and moved to Vorotnavank in the 1340s. Grigor Tatevatsi worked here in the 1380s. The monastery is the final resting place for Queen Shahandukht and Prince Sevada. Vorotnavank operated until the beginning of the 20th c. 

The current structure consists of 2 churches, the gavit, auxiliary structures, the graveyard with tombstones and elaborate khachkars and the outer wall. In 1000 Queen Shahandukht of Siunik commissioned St. Stepanos Nakhavka church to the north-east of St. Grigor, the gavit and the auxiliary buildings. 

St. Stepanos boasts a vaulted roof, two annexes and a portico on the south.  In 1006 her son, Prince Sevada, commissioned the central-domed St. Karapet (“the forerunner”) which has three apses and the arched gavit which adjoins the church on its west.   

St. Karapet was once adorned with frescoes. Those surviving on the northern apse depict starlit sky in a circle and an angel in the center. Adjoining the north wall of St. Karapet, on a stepped pedestal stands a unique 11th c. stele. Vorotnavank was built in line with the castle construction principles. The defensive walls surrounding the complex include the northern walls of the worship structures which lack openings and are extensions of the outer walls.

The 1931 Zangezur earthquake ruined the monastery. The dome and the roofs, the portico, the auxiliary buildings, the stele and the outer wall did not survive.  The complex has been restored since then.

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    How to reach From Yerevan drive north-east for 217km and you will reach the Vorotnavank Monastery. The trip will take approximately 3 hours 4 minutes.

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