Noravank (Նորավանք, meaning new monastery) is a 13th
centurymonastery, located 122 km from Yerevan in a narrow
gorge made by the Darichay river, nearby the city
ofYeghegnadzor, Armenia. The gorge is known for its
tall, sheer, brick-red cliffs, directly across from the monastery. The
monastery is best known for its two-storey S. Astvatsatsin
church, which grants access to the second floor by way of narrow
stones jutting out from the face of building. The monastery is
sometimes called Amaghu-Noravank, Amaghu being the name of
a small recently destroyed village above the canyon, in order to
distinguish it from Bgheno-Noravank Monastery, near Goris. In
the 13th–14th centuries the monastery became a residence
of Syunik's bishops and, consequently. a major religious
and, later, cultural center of Armenia closely connected with many
of the local seats of learning, especially with Gladzor's famed
university and library.
The nearest and grandest church is the
Astvatsatsin (“Mother of God”), also
called Burtelashen (“Burtel-built”) in
honor of Prince Burtel Orbelian, its
financer, is situated to the south-east of
and at an angle to St. Karapet church
and its gavit. The church, completed in
1339, is said to be the masterpiece of
the talented sculptor and miniaturist
Momik, who designed it, and was also
his last work.
S. Astvatsatsin Church of Noravank
Burtelashen is a highly artistic monument
reminiscent of the tower-like burial structures of the first
years of Christianity in Armenia. It is a memorial church.
Its ground floor, rectangular in the plan, was a
family burial vault, and the first floor (second to
Americans), cross-shaped in the plan, was a memorial
temple crownedwith a multi-column rotunda.
Burtelashen temple is the architecturally
dominant structure of Noravank. An original three-tier
composition of the building is based on the increasing
height of the tiers and the combination of the heavy
bottom with the divided middle and the semi-open top.
Accordingly, decoration is more modest at the bottom
and richer at the top. Employed here as elements of
interior decoration are columns, small arches, profiled
braces forming crosses of various
shapes, medallions, window and door platbands.
S. Astvatsatsin - facade detail
S. KARAPET CHURCH
The second church is the S. Karapet, a cross
within square design with restored drum and
dome built in 1216–1227, just N of the ruins of
the original S. Karapet, destroyed in an
earthquake. The church was built by the
decree of PrinceLiparit Orbelian.
In 1340 an earthquake destroyed the dome of
the church which in 1361 was reconstructed
by the architect Siranes. In 1931the dome was
damaged during another earthquake.
In 1949, the roof and the walls of the church
were repaired and finally completely renovated
in 1998 with the aid of a ArmenianCanadian family.
S. GRIGOR CHAPEL
The side chapel of S.
Grigor was added by the
architect Siranes to the northern
wall of S. Karapet church
in 1275. The chapel contains
more Orbelian family
tombs, including a splendid
carved lion/human tombstone
dated 1300, covering the grave
of Elikum son of Prince
Tarsayich Orbelian. The modest
structure has a rectangular
plan, with a semi-circular altar
and a vaulted ceiling on a wall
arch. The entrance with an
arched tympanum is decorated
with columns, and the altar apse
is flanked with khachkars and
representations of doves in