Tsaghats Kar

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Tsaghats Kar 4: History. Complex. Map legend

 Tsaghats Kar: History

Tsaghats kar complex is 2 km west of Smbataberd fortress (seen on the mountain ridge opposite the monastery).

According to the 13th century historian and Metropolitan for Siuniats (Siunik) Stepanos Orbelian, in the fifth century, during the war against the Sassanids, four battles took place in Vayots Dzor, one of which occurred near Tsaghats kar. The war's most famous battle was in 451, at Avaraiyr, which was pivotal in rallying Armenian resistance and eventual right to exist autonomously. The bas reliefs on the walls of St. Karapet Church at Tsaghats kar are crests for the princes of Siunik (9th-11th cc).

According to Stepanos Taronetsi, the monastery was founded during the reign of King Abbas I Bagratuni (929-953) by an abbot also named Stepanos, vastly enlarging the complex and adding monk quarters and service buildings. Other enlargements came in the 11th century and thereafter, adding rooms, refectory, gavits and other buildings.


The Monastery consists of three parts, dominated by their respective buildings: The first by St. N'shan and St. Karapet churches, decorated with magnificent stone crosses or “khachkars”, the second by St. Astvatsatsin church, a columned hall, gavit, other halls, monk quarters, rooms and service buildings, and the third just to the south; a large cemetery under the ruined walls, with an extensive collection of tumbled down stones.

The farthest east building is St. N'shan (“Holy Sign”) (1), faced with giant khachkars on its western façade. The domed cruciform church is St. Karapet (2) (“the Forerunner” or John the Baptist). To the west are several buildings, including the impressive gavit with side niches (6) (the east end roofing is preserved) and foundations for other buildings, including an adjoining vaulted hall (5), a small gavit, monk cells (9) and other buildings (10).


Map Legende

1. St. N'shan (Holy Sign) church
2. St. Karapet (John the Baptist) church
3. Graveyard
4. St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church
5. Columned Hall
6. Vaulted gavit
7. Hall
8. Structure
9. Monk cells
10. Service buildings
11. Stone tub
12. St. Hovhannes (St. John) church