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Armenia31 Akhtala monastery



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Akhtala is a 10th-century fortified Georgian Orthodox Church monastery located in the town of Akhtala in the marz of Lori, 185 kilometers (115 mi) north of Yerevan. The fortress played a major role in protecting the north-western regions of Armenia (Gugark) and is among the most well preserved of all in modern Armenia. The main church at the compound is famous for its highly artistic frescoes, which cover the inside walls, the partitions, and the bearings of the building. The original Armenian name of the settlement where the monastery is built is Pghindzahank, which means copper mine

Armenia31 Akhtala monastery

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  2. 2. Akhtala is  a  10th-century  fortified Georgian  Orthodox  Church monastery  located  in  the  town  of Akhtala in  the marz of Lori,  185  kilometers  (115 mi)  north  of Yerevan. The  fortress  played  a  major  role  in  protecting  the  north-western  regions  of  Armenia  (Gugark)  and  is  among the most well preserved of all in modern Armenia.  The main church at the compound is famous for its highly  artistic frescoes, which cover the inside walls, the partitions,  and  the  bearings  of  the  building. The  original  Armenian  name  of  the  settlement  where  the  monastery  is  built  is  Pghindzahank, which means copper mine
  3. 3. Wedding rings statue. Pater Vigen said, if couples go through they will leave  all  the  bad  things  (the  snake  and  scorpion)  behind  and  are  facing  a  good 
  4. 4. According to some  local lore, the church  was built in the 7th  century by Byzantine  emperor of Armenian  extraction, Heraclius. 
  5. 5. Another legend  assumes that the  church was built in  the 5th century by  Georgian King  Vakhtang I  Gorgasali. 
  6. 6. There is no  reasonable  evidence to  support either  story.  Modern  researchers date  the murals within  the church to  1205–1216
  7. 7. From the late 18th  century to the  present the  monastery has  served ethnic Greeks  who settled in  Akhtala to work in the  nearby gold and  silver mines
  8. 8. Akhtala remains  one of Armenia's  best intact  examples of its  great fresco period
  9. 9. Several monasteries in northern Armenia were converted to Chalcedonian  or Greek (Byzantine) Orthodoxy, a prominent example being  Akhtala. 
  10. 10. About 800 Greek families were moved from Gümüşhane in the Ottoman Empire to Akhtala in 1763 by the Georgian King Herekleh II.
  11. 11. The Greeks called the monastery "Meramani" and Greek miners have left inscriptions on the monastery walls. In the 19th century Akhtala was taken over by the Armenian princely family of Melikovs.
  12. 12. Compared to all other Armenian monasteries it distinguishes from its precious and unique frescos which are very well preserved and in original condition
  13. 13. Pghndzavank was the religious center for Chalcedonian Armenians as well as an Armenian- Georgian center for learning
  14. 14. The majority of the murals bare scriptures in Greek
  15. 15. The murals are one of the best representations of Byzantine art outside the traditional borders of Byzantium
  16. 16. The murals were painted under the patronage of atabek Ivane Zakarian between 1205 and 1216
  17. 17. The coloring of the murals is characteristic of typical Byzantine art while the thematic solutions are more Armenian
  18. 18. Some of the murals were renovated in 1979
  19. 19. The Akhtala fortress with its temple complex is situated in Akhtala village of Tumanyan region in a high valley.
  20. 20. The fortress’ territory is surrounded with rocky deep canyons from three sides, and the north side joins the plain
  21. 21. Pghndzahank became the property of Ivaneh Zakarian in the 1180s. While Ivaneh's brother Zakareh remained faithful to the Armenian Apostolic Church, Ivaneh had accepted the Byzantine (or Chalcedonian) Orthodoxy in the Georgian Court (which had adopted it in the 7th century).
  22. 22. The prominent Armenian filmmaker of the 20th century Sergei Parajanov filmed two episodes of his film The Color of Pomegranates at the monastery
  23. 23. Besides the natural advantages, the fortress was protected by tall pyramid gates mutually connected with the picturesque environs which are preserved to this day
  24. 24. Sound: Lusine Zakaryan -Vocalise by Arno Babajanyan Text & pictures: Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foişoreanu