Sanahin Monastery


icon-mapAlaverdi 1705, Lori region, Republic of Armenia


Sanahin is monastery complex located in Alaverdi town, Lori region. It includes Saint Astvatsatsin and Saint Savior churches with their courtyards, also Saint Grigor and Saint Harutyun chapels, lyceum, writing house, bell-tower and ancestral mausoleums of Kyurikyan’s Zakarian’s. The first church of the complex Saint Astvatsatsin was built in the 10th century. The church structure belongs to cross- domed types of buildings. On the inside walls of it remained the carved frescoes.

According to a legend, Sanahin was named after the master of a student that built Haghpat monastery. The master saw that his student build a church and reminded him that "sa nranits hin e" which means "it is older than the other one ". In 966 was built Saint Savior, by Ahsot 3rd Voghormats King and Khosrovanuysh Queen. It is the complex’s the main and the biggest church. It also has a cross-domed shape. On the eastern façade of the church in the rectangular frame inserted a bas-relief of Sambat and Kyurike Kings (the sons of Ashot 3rd).  

The bell-tower is the highest and the richest building of the complex. It is a  three-storey building which was built by Queen Vaneni's son. The Sanahin monastery had three bells that were stolen during World War II and used to prepare bullets.

There is the oldest and the biggest Armenian library in the monastery which has a look of a chapel. The books had silver and gold decorated covers and beautifully painted pages. The biggest book weighted half a ton. Only 35 books survived from a whole collection. 

In 979 King Smbat 2nd built a writing house and the chapel of Saint Gevorg. In the 12th century were built, the courtyards of two churches, bell-tower and the mausoleums of Zakaryan. In 2001 Sanahin monastery complex was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

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