Vank town, the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
Gandzasar monastery is located in the town of Vank, the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh. It was built in the 10th-13th centuries. The church was named after the hill in front of the monastery, which is famous for its silver and other metals mines.
The first reference to this church was made by Catholicos Anania Mokatsi in the 10th century. According to him, the church Saint Hovhannes Mkrtich of the complex was built in 1216-1238 by the Duke of Artsakh Hasan-Jalal.
Gandzasar Monastery Complex is surrounded by high walls and includes the St. Hovhannes Mkrtich Church, the churchyard, the cells, the refectory (1689) and a two-story school building (1898). There is an old cemetery in the south of the monastery.
Anatoli Yakobson, a famous archaeologist, described this church as a “Pearl of Architectural Art”. There are lots of inscriptions on the walls of the monastery. In 1909 Hovsep Orbeli, an eminent orientalist and academician counted more than 80 inscriptions, one of which describes the history of the building’s construction.
Gandzasar was attacked several times during the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Fierce fighting took place around Gandzasar in 1992, when Azerbaijan sieged the area. Some of the outlying buildings within the monastery complex were destroyed as a result of Azerbaijani bombardment by helicopters, which intentionally targeted the church.
The Armenians broke the siege, which saved Gandzasar and strengthened its spiritual status. Following the war, the monastery was completely refurbished. Now it is an incredibly beautiful and beloved spiritual centre.