Nature Trail 2010: Kirants

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Kirants Monastery, 13th century

Kirants Monastery, 13th century

Another important example of medieval Armenian architecture, Kirants Monastery is on the Left Bank of the Kirants River, deep inside the forest.

The complex consists of three churches, gavit-halls, refectory, dwelling and service structures, defensive walls with a large arched gate. Rarely seen in Armenia, most of the complex is made of brick, with some structures and details made from finely hewn durable sandstone.

The main church (1) is a domed cross form made from baked brick, unique for Armenian architecture in this period. The eight-facet drum is decorated with a mosaic of incrusted multi-color and multi-shape glazed tiles.

The main church is flanked north and south by two other churches (2) (3), both of which belong to the single-nave hall type. There are fragments of 13th century frescos in all three churches. The doors are edged with intricate carvings using floral and geometric patterns.

The dining hall / refectory (4) at Kirants monastery is an important example of vernacular architecture, built using a combination of partially-worked sandstone and river rock. It is a large vaulted hall, the vault resting on three arches. As in the churches, fresco fragments with Georgian and Greek inscriptions are preserved on the walls, showing the monastery belonged to the Armenian Chalcedonian sect, a branch of the church that was popular in 13th century northern Armenia.

The monastery's cemetery stretches to the east from the main church. Among the tombstones there is one belonging to Archimandrite (Superior) Mamia, dated 1698.

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