Spitakavor

Spitakavor is a small monastery in the southern Armenian province of Vayots Dzor, 8-9 kilometres southeast of Vernashen. Vayoz Dzor Province is home to many ancient landmarks and tourist attractions in Armenia, including the Areni Cave and Winery, the 8th-century Tanahat Monastery, the 10th-century Smbataberd Fortress and the 13th-century Noravank.

The monastery complex Spitakavor, with its pointed roof, rises completely alone between the forestless mountains. The monastery is isolated from the whole world. It seems that the human hand has not touched its environment. Harmony and peace prevail here.

Spitakavor has an interesting stone colour. There are carved crosses around the monastery, which are typical of Christian churches, but here, the cross-stones are particularly beautiful.

The monastery is one of the most important cultural, educational and spiritual centres in Vayots Dzor. Throughout its existence, the monastery was damaged several times.

The only church of the complex is Spitakavor Holy Mother of God Church. It is made of white rockite and is therefore called Spitakavor ("spitak" means "white"). Inscriptions preserved on the walls indicate that the church was built by Prince Eachi. After Eachi died in 1318, his son Amir Hasan the Second continued the construction. The church was completed in 1321.

As mentioned above, this church was one of the most important cultural and spiritual centres. Perhaps that's why, when Gladzor University stopped functioning in the 1940s, Spitakavor became the Proshyan educational and cultural centre.

During the invasions of Lenk Timur (14th century), the monastery was looted, the Gavit and the walls were destroyed. Apart from that, the buildings of economic importance were burned. None of these buildings was ever rebuilt, although the monastery was operating until the 17th century.

The Holy Mother of God Church is a small vaulted hall with two extensions on both sides of the sanctuary. The church is made of white rock and has a cylindrical drum and a conical roof.

It is noteworthy that the church is rich in bas-reliefs depicting spiritual and secular scenes. On the north wall, Prince Eachi and his son were portrayed (now in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg), and on the south wall, the hunting Amir Hasan (now in the History Museum of Armenia, Yerevan) has been depicted.

Particularly interesting is the huge cross on the east facade of the church, whose irregular wings are closed with five-winged stars. In the courtyard of the church, the ruins of monk cells have also been preserved.

The gavit is located west of the church. There is only one entrance to the rectangular gavit, which is from the west side. Above the entrance, there is a tympanum depicting the Holy Mother holding the little Jesus. This bas-relief is very valuable.

The interior of the church is also interesting. The drum of the gavit is cylindrical and it is so high that it gives the impression that the small structure is rather big. There is a figure depicting Jesus Christ and the four evangelists in the dome. In another carving, one may reveal two human figures holding the miniature of the church in their hands.

The bell tower of the church was built in 1330.

In 1987, the relics of Garegin Nzhdeh were buried here.

Garegin Nzhdeh was a military strategist, politician and statesmen. In 1912 he formed an Armenian battalion and participated in the Balkan wars against the Ottoman Empire. He is an important figure in Armenia's history.

Due to its history, location and beauty, this monastery is a popular tourist destination in Armenia.