Back to home

Sanahin 3: Complex. St. Astvatsatsin (1) and St. Amenaprkitch (2).


Sanahin complex consists of five churches, two gavits, a cemetery, a seminary (academy), book depository, bell-tower, patrimonial sepulchers and other structures once encircled by a fortified wall. The main buildings are grouped around the main church, forming an integrated whole.

St. Astvatsatsin (1) and St. Amenaprkitch (2)

At the center of the compound is St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church, built sometime between 928 and 944 by the Bagratunis. It is on the outside a domed cross-wing church and inside rectangular with two-story annexes at each of the four corners. The drum and cupola were rebuilt much later, most probably in 1652 during the reconstruction of the complex by Sargis Oustah and his students, according to one of the surviving inscriptions.

Immediately next to St. Astvatsatsin is the much larger St. Amenaprkitch (Holy Redeemer or All Savior) Katoghike Church, completed in 966 and built by order of Queen Khosrovanush, wife to King Ashot III (the Merciful) Bagratuni. This magnificent church is a domed cross form and dominates the complex.

The eastern façade has a bas-relief sculpture of the queen's sons, Princes Kiurikeh (Giurgen) and Smbat (sons of Ashot the Merciful and queen Khosrovanush). Smbat became king of Ani and Kuirike reigned in Lori.

The interiors of both churches were decorated with frescos that have been almost completely lost.

Khachkar Masterpieces at Sanahin include the intricately carved Grigor Tudevordi khachkar-memorial stone (1184) and the Sarkis khachkar (1215), on the western side of Astvatsatsin, both intricate works of art.

Original text edited by ICOMOS-Armenia and approved by the Holy See of Echmiadzin.