Akhtala, Lori Region, Republic of Armenia
Akhtala Monastery Complex is located in the village of Akhtala, Lori region․ It was built in the 10th century by the Kiurikid princes. The fortress of Akhtala stands on the edge of a high ravine and is protected by natural barriers on three sides. The entrance to the castle was protected by walls and a three-storey conical tower.
In the 1180s, the region belonged to the prince Ivane Zakaryan, who adopted Chalcedonian (Orthodox) Christianity and converted Akhtala into a Chalcedonian monastery.
The Akhtala monastic complex incorporates elements of Armenian, Georgian and Byzantine architecture. The main church of the Monastery is St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God).
The walls of the church are decorated with beautifully preserved frescoes painted in the 13th century when the church became Chalcedonian. The colouring of the frescoes is typical of Byzantine art while the thematic solutions of the miniature are Armenian. The inscriptions on the walls are in the Greek or Georgian languages. A small singe-nave church of the 13th-century is right next to the main church.
There used to be buildings to the north of St Astvatsatsin of which only the walls have survived until now. These were probably friary or refectory buildings. In the courtyard of the complex stands the tomb-chapel of the Zakaryans.