Karmravor Church


icon-mapKhachatur Abovyan St, Republic of Armenia, Ashtarak

Karmravor church or Saint Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) is a 7th-century cross-domed church in the town of Ashtarak (Aragatsotn Region) that was built by priests Grigor and Manas.

The size of this harmoniously proportioned church from outside is only 5,9 x 7,4 meters. It is the only ancient church in Armenia the original roof of which has been preserved till our days. 

In the inscriptions found on the outside walls of the church are mentioned those inhabitants of the village who helped to build the church. The modest size of the church and the simplicity of decoration assume that it used to be a vault of a princely family. It was also a nunnery monastery that functioned till 1813.

There is a medieval graveyard with khachkars (cross-stones) and gravestones of 13th – 17th centuries in the court of St. Karmravor church. The oldest khachkar called "Arqakazmoghin" dates back to 1184.

The legend says that there were three sisters who fell in love with the same young man. The two elder sisters decided to sacrifice themselves in order for their youngest sister to be happy with her beloved one. They dressed in red and light orange dresses and threw themselves into the Ashtarak gorge. When their younger sister discovered what had happened she also threw herself into the gorge dressed in white. 

After a time, three churches appeared on the edge of the gorge: Karmravor ('karmir'-red), Tsiranavor ('tsirani'-apricot colour) and Spitakavor ('spitak'-white). The young man became a hermit. 

According to another version the names of the churches are connected to the colour of the Holy Mother's veil on the frescoes in each of these churches. 

The handwritten gospel "Shukhonts" is kept in Karmravor church. It was donated to the church by the Shukyants family in 1873.

The tomb of a famous Armenian poet Gevorg Emin is at the church of Karmravor.

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