Hovhanavank

place

icon-mapOhanavan 0225, Republic of Armenia

Hovhanavank is a medieval monastery complex is situated in the eastern part of Ohanavan village (The Aragatsotn region) and on the right bank of Kasakh River.  Once it was one of the prominent medieval spiritual and cultural centers of Armenia.

According to the legends, the first building of the monastery dates back to the pagan periods, when Armenians built the temple for worshiping the Goddess of Astghik. She was Armenian Goddes of love, beauty, and water. Astghik was one of the loveliest Goddess of the people, even famous Vardavar festival has pagan origin: Armenians dedicated the celebration to Astghik. 

On the same site of the pagan temple, Gregory Enlightener built basilica church dedicated to Hovhan Mkrtich whose remains are buried under the church. According to Arakel Davrijeci, the monastery was named after Hovhan who was the leader of the church. The church has the name of St Karapet because it was one of the churches that had been built after the adoption of Christianity. In fact, Trdat 3rd King also participated in the works of construction because the area of the monastery was one of his summer houses. 

The 5th-century basilica church is single-naved building, built by black and grey Tufa stone. The first years the church had a wooden roof but in 573 it was changed into a stone roof by Ashot Dvinetsi. Probably the standing monument in front of the church was built in honor of Dvinetsi. The main church of the monastery was built by the order of  Vache Vachutyan in 1216-1221. The courtyard was added the son of Vache Kurd in 1250.

On the walls of the building were found many inscriptions which date back to 13-18th century. The inscriptions related the building of the church, renovations, and donations. On the walls of Hovhanavank are carved nearly 100 inscriptions about Vachutyan dukes.

In the 5th century in that basilica church opened a famous school where the famous Armenian Historian wrote "History of Armenia". He was the leader and the main teacher of the center. In the 6th century in the same school, Gevorg Mankik copied manuscripts which are now kept in Matenadaran (Yerevan).

The writing house of the church was one of the eminent centers of Armenia. The recordings and the manuscripts were written in the 13-18 centuries are kept till nowadays. In the 17th century here lived and worked Zakaria Kanakertsi who wrote the history of Hovhannavank.

To the right of the altar, there is a hidden tunnel that leads to the canyon of Kasagh river. A legend says that when a Georgian king was sick he ordered to bring parts of St.Gevorg's remains that were famous for their healing power. When Armenians brought him the remains, the king refused to return them.

Then Georgians decided to attack the village, knowing after the upcoming attack Armenians gathered at the monastery's yard and started to pray before death. They entered the church and exited it through the tunnel. The priest told the Georgian king that people got wings and flew away like doves. 

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