Nature Trail 2010: Arakelots

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Arakelots monastery, 13th-14th cc.

Arakelots monastery, 13th-14th cc.

A testament to medieval Armenian architecture, Arakelots looks over the Left Bank of the Kirants River. Thick defensive walls with round towers surround the complex, which consists of two churches, a gavit, living quarters and auxiliary structures, most in ruins.

The main church (1) is dated to the 13th century, a domed type with four arches connecting the pillars that support the dome. The small central space is topped by a central dome with a round drum. Once enlivened by frescoes, the interior still boasts fragments of exquisite design.

The Gavit (2) is connected to the main church on the west; defensive walls for the complex serve as the northern and eastern walls of the gavit. The structure is a rectangular vault made from two pairs of cross-arches. The cross-arches form a square which supports the yerdik (dome and central aperture), using the “hazarashen” (“thousand pieces”) type of peasant houses.

The door has an inscription dated to 1245 over the South doorway mentioning a certain Khutlu Bugha Artsruni, the son of Atabek Sadun, Lord of Mahkanaberd.

There is a small church (3) (14th c.) to the south of the main entrance of the monastery. It is a vaulted single nave basilica with a square plan crowned by a tent-roof.

Among surviving structures, the defensive walls (4) stand out for their construction technique—they are built from large pieces of rock and lime mortar. The cells (5) are also interesting, embedded in the walls of the complex; many of the surviving cells in the living quarters are believed to have served as prison cells.

The monastery has the masterpiece St. Karapet Khachkar (6), a beautifully carved intricate cross, edged by an inscription, stands on a pedestal next to the southern wall of the church.

Around the monastery on both sides of Kirants river, traces of historic Arakelots village can be found with remnants of a bridge (S'ranots Bridge), a caravanserai, baths, numerous churches and other structures.

 

Original text edited by ICOMOS/Armenia and the Institute for Archeology and Ethnography of the Academy of Sciences of Armenia.