Sanahin Monastery


icon-mapAlaverdi 1705, Lori region, Republic of Armenia

Sanahin is a monastery complex located in the town of AlaverdiLori region. According to legend, the monastery was founded in the 4th century. The name "Sanahin" is explained by the phrase "sa nranic hin e" which in Armenian means "this is older than the other one". "The other one" in this case refers to the monastery of Haghpat, which is also in Lori Province.

The Monastery includes the churches of St Astvatsatsin and St. Amenaprkich with their courtyards, St. Gregory and St. Harutyun chapels, a seminary, a scriptorium, a bell tower, as well as the mausoleums of the Zakarians and Kyurikians. 

St. Astvatsatsin Church is the oldest building of the complex. It was built in the 10th century (928-944). The church is a rectangular domed construction with an internal cross-shaped plan. The narthex of St Astvatsatsin Church (built in AD 1211) is unique in its plan of a three-nave rectangular hall.

St. Amenaprkich Cathedral was built in 966 next to St Astvatsatsin. It is larger in size and has two-story annexes at each of the four corners. The interior walls of the two churches were decorated with frescoes, some of which are well preserved.

The scriptorium (also called ‘Nshkharat” relic house) is located on the northeastern side of the group of buildings. It was built in AD 1063; it is square in plan and vaulted, with niches in which books were stored. Sanahin was renown for its school of illuminators and calligraphers. 

The belfry is a three-storey structure, crowned with a six-pillar tower. The stone steps lead to the second and third floors of the bell tower. Its western façade is distinguished by its decorative ornamentation.

In 2001 Sanahin monastery complex was added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

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