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Spitakavor 7: History. Garegin Nzhdeh Grave (6). Map legend


Spitakavor Astvatsatsin's (“White Virgin”) name comes from its white shaved felsite stone. According to the inscriptions on the walls of the church, it was built for the Proshian prince E'achi (pronounced “eh-ah-chee”) and after his death (1318) it was completed by his son Prince Amir Hassan II in 1321.

The church is within sight and across the gorge from the once imposing but now ruined fortress of “Boloraberd” or Proshaberd. There are traces of a small basilica incorporating the pre-Christian shrine that stood at the site.

Spitakavor was one of the more important cultural, educational and religious centers of Vayots Dzor, continuing into the 15th century despite attacks by Turkmen Kara-Koyunlu and Ak-Koyunlu tribes which devastated the region after the collapse of the Mongol Empire. When nearby Gladzor University closed in the 1340s, Spitakavor became the educational center for Proshian lands, led in the 2nd half of the 15th century by the famous philologist Vardapet Avakter, some of whose manuscripts survive.

Timurid raids completely devastated the complex, destroying the gavit, pulling down defense walls and burning the service structures, none of which were rebuilt. The monastery continued to hold services until the region was abandoned during the 1604 Shah Abbas' forced-exile of Armenians.

Garegin Nzhdeh Grave (6)

Among the graves in the church yard is the final resting place for the Armenian Resistance leader Garegin Nzhdeh (1886-1955). Born Garegin Ter-Harutiunian, the son of a village priest in Nakhichevan, Nzhdeh joined partisan forces fighting Turkish control in the Balkan Wars and WWI, where his brigade helped drive Turks from western Armenia.

During WWII, Nzhdeh tried to negotiate a plan to free all of historic Armenia from the Soviets and Turkey. Captured by the Soviets, he died in prison. In the 1987 his remains were secretly moved to Spitakavor.



Map Legend

1. Entrance
2. St. Astvatsatsin church
3. Gavit
4. Belfry
5. Foundations
6. Garegin Nzhdeh grave