No matter if you get to Dadivank from the Armenia via Kelbajar, or from Karabakh proper, you will see some beautiful scenery, especially nearer to the monastery where the road winds along a gorge with a river and beautiful forests. The little turnoff for Dadivank will either take you right to it, or if you have a bus more likely a short walk under it. You approach the monastery from the same spot either way and you will see that it is impressive already. Then, as you start to wander you will see more and more including a very extensive lower level that many people don't explore and more ruins above and around the main complex as well. It is easy to climb around on the roof of the main complex, but be warned, there are at least two hidden holes that plunge a great distance to the church floors. There are paths on the roof through the weeds growing and you should stick closely to these and walk carefully as the holes are nearby and can be easy to miss. Children should not be allowed to wander or run ahead.
Some unedited translated text on Dadivank
Dadi or Khuta temple There is a large valley in the place where Gharabagh and Mrav mountain-chains get closer by a slopy hill. On that small, but very beautiful plain's central hill is built one of the remarkable constructions of Armenian architecture - Dadivank or Khutavank.
Etymology of "Dadi" and "Khuta" names are given in two ways in our lythograph- one connected with Armenian custom, the other connected with the district. The first one is connected with one of the 70 students of the Apostle St. Thaddeus, named Dadi or Dado, who preached Christianity in Artsakh and died there; "Dadi, one of my 70, that went by Tadi's order to Mets Hayk in northern side, nad became the death of Abgar, then came to Pokr Syunik and built a temple here and after his name called it Dadi") The first apostles that preached Christianity in Armenian were known to be in first century. Therefore the first building of this monk-complex was probably founded in the second half of the same century, if not before that. But very few things have preserved from that time, because the temple was completely destroyed during the campaigns of foreign bandits. The preserved monuments belong to 10-13cc. From information taken from other sources Dadi temple's serving-worldly people formed a large village named Khot. From that village only 300 families in the end of 18c transferred to Yerevan district, founded village Yengija, later on most part of them migrated to Shulaver. The temple was robbed by Persians, then Arabs, Seljuks, later by Osman Turks and again by Persians. Moreover, the temple that passed through the experiments of centuries since 17c little by little was deprived of its wealth and what’s most tragic, from the surrounding tens of Armenian villages (who migrated to the depths of Persia), even from serving population. That's the reason why arch-bishop Sargis Jalalyans in the middle of 19c found Dadi temple lonely and ramshackle. "Those places are hiding-places for bandits and robbers of Artsakh district" and they in the traditional sacred placed keep "their animals", then "The large gardens are all destroyed, only the wild fruit-trees grow and multiply". Dadi temple with its buildings and multifarious building-materials used on them, very fine bas-reliefs with church and lithography’s (as well as the presence of its wonderful wall-pictures) is exceptionally noteworthy. The monk complex is almost divided into two parts- the main part inside the ramparts and the southern auxiliary constructions placed out of the rampart. The Ancient church or the one-nave basilica is situated on the northern slope of the complex. The northern wall completely and the eastern part are partly dug in the earth. The vaulted roof of the quite large construction was leaning on the half-pillars, three adjacent to each wall. The scheme is a prolonged rectangle without any division. The northern and southern walls have bays, which are encircled by clearly-trimmed stones. One of the two doors of the church is in the western wall, the other is in the corners of southern and eastern walls. The doors, especially the western one, are carved and outline the restrained ornament of the basilica even more. The second church, which is considered one of the ancients too, is adjacent to the first one from south. This church is comparatively narrower and shorter, the two-row three in each wall-pillars repeat like the first one. The walls are built of untrimmed stone and have built-in closets outlined by clearly trimmed stone. The noticable similar different masonry of basilica's separate parts show that the church was repaired. The repair ws done with so much care that the former look of the old building has completely preserved. The church hall is divided into two equal parts by a partition. The western hall had probably served as a chapel. "Here there two buildings" wrote Mesrop Magistros arch-bishop Ter-Movsisyan "chosing as a building place for this remarkable temple makes us suppose that this place was consecrated by a deeper antiquity, that Artsakh's princes chose as their family cemetery and enriching it with lands made it one of the greatest temples". The most important construction period of Dadi temple is the first half of 13c, when begins construction of new buildings. One of the first buildings built during that period is considered Grigor episcop's vestibule-chapel. It's adjacent to the basilica from west and in the general temple assembly it surely has its unique architectural description. The vestibule-chapel is a unique construction. By its meaning it has half-worldly half-religious importance, by architectural scheme and constructional principle it concerns Armenian national houses. The builders of the vestibule-chapel, proceeding from requirements to build a common architectural complex first of all had the old basilica repaired, then only built the vestibule-chapel. Perhaps by this can be explained the exterior modest and restrained ornament, and the contrast of interior opulence, which to our mind is the result of architect's delicate and witty intention. If inside the vestibule the architect had the opportunity to solve each intention freely, from ouside those opportunities were so limited that in case of creating opulence, the ancient religious leading churches would remain in shadow and their impressiveness would decrease. Meanwhile, as was mentioned above, the reforms on the churches- the ornament-carvings of doors, the clearly-trimmed circles of bays outline the peculiarities of unique buildings even more. The arches connecting the vestibule's inside four one-piece stony pillars and their corresponding half-pillars carry the building's cover with an opening. Like the churches the monument is a tall building built from untrimmed stone from inside. The only door is from southern side outlined by ornament-carvings. The inscription on the right side of the door shows that it was built in 1224 by Grigor episkop. Numerous khachkars were put inside the vestibule’s walls. From that point the western wall is typical, in the middle of which nie khachkars are placed side by side. This small constructions are covered with fine, beautiful lace-decorated carvings and donation inscriptions. Grigor episcop vestibule-chapel had been the grave-house of Verin Khachen's prince family throughout centuries. From inside the floor is covered with tombstones, part of writings on which are already erased. Arzu- Khatun church-monument stands out like a wonderful monument in Dadi temple complex. Armenian architecture's remarkable and famous this monument is situated in the eastern part of temple's territory, on the brink of the precipice going down to the deep canyon. All the other constructions are placed towards north and south-west from it. Through monk and worldly these buildings in two rows, from the main gate of the rampart to teh monument stretches a wide and long passage, which in literature is called "poghota" (avenue). The temple was founded in 1214 by Haterk's great prince Vakhtang Barepasht's wife Arzu Khatun. The large building inscription of the monument (19 long lines) preserved on its southern wall tells about Arzu Khatun and the construction she started in detail. Here is the first part of that inscription; "Thanks to Almighty God and His Only Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, I , Arzu Khatun, Your servant, Great prince Krdin's daughter and Khachen's Vakhtank's wife built this sacred monument with great hope in the place of my cemetery and my sons Hasanay and Grigor, that Kesarian lord killed and for their mercy God advised me this". Arzu-Khatun church-monument is a large construction belonging to vaulted type of halls, crowned with wide and polyhedral high drums and sharp painted spire. It has crucified from inside and quadrangle from outside scheme. The wall-pillars of inside four corners at the same time serve as support for the tall dome. To the second floor vestries one can get by the consol stairs fastened on the walls. The monument's inside half-pillars and their connecting arches are from white heavy stone decorated with very fine carvings. The inside walls' plaster, destroyed and chapped in some places is covered with badly-preserved wall-pictures. The up to date preserved pictures show the traditional traits of Armenian fresco- plentiful colors, the simple method of painting, love towards decoration, brightly expressed eastern type of face. In the western side of Arzu-Khatun church, directly adjoining to the front wall there is a large hall stretched across, which is built on such account that church' entry with its carved belt became hall's inside decoration's center, and the hall serves as a vestibule for the church. Like similar medieval vestibule-halls this one too instead of front wall has pillars placed in equal distances, which above join bow-like and carry on them part of the vaulted, gable roof. Other ends of the roof lean on the second basilica's southern wall. This well-preserved monument with its position and building-parts is the repetition of Tatev temple's large hall, only pillars here are built from untrimmed stone. Three inscriptions of the construction preserved, two of which are badly harmed, the third one is the building inscription the date on which was rubbed off. Fortunately once it was recorded and according to it this hall was built in 1241 by Smbat. Chapel is situated in the western part of the complex, in front of the gate. The two-story construction was built in 13c by Dopeants prince Vahram's son Sargis episcop. The first floor is death from all sides, in western side the staircase goes up to second floor, where in a cell surrounded by walls, carved fronts directed towards west fully preserved Dadi temple's two matchless khachkars. Chapel's second floor is a four-pillar dome, where in old times probably were hung the bells. The dome's cover, vaults, four round pillars, their capitals and foundations are clearly-trimmed, beatiful and in common make a pleasant expression. Most likely, at first, the construction's first and second floors had a passage, adn only later khachkars were placed in the second floor and covered from behind, so that the whole construction would become kind of a shelf for those highly artistic khachkars. Each of the khachkars consists of two grey-white pieces of clay-stones, the bottom one of which is four times bigger and is considered to be the main part. The two parts are joined to each other in such a way that from first sight they make an impression of one-piece stone. Though the khachkars very much resemble each other by their volume and plentifullness of ornaments, but they quite differ from each other by decorative-ornament braids and unique peculiarities. This condition doesn't create contrast and even leaves extraordinary and inimitable impression on the regarder, and their being placed side by side becomes ordinary. Both khachkars stand out by luxurious ornaments and mastery. In their ornaments geometric lines and natural complicated braid-decorations are very impressive. In fact the braid was made smaller and finer to such degree that the decoration on stone looks like a jeweller's or hand-crafted perfect work. In the common formation of these magestic monument decorations inscriptions are included only as auxiliary elements. And, what's most important, the inscriptions give true information about why each khachkar was put, its date and building patrons. That's why all the investigators (and why only investigators) unanimously think that these khachkars "...don't have their equals anywhere, in no temple" or "in their type even if they are not considered the best, then it's impossible to point to a more perfectf one". The ornament of these khachkars are supposed to have been taken from Arzu-Khatun's hand-crafts. Khachen's kind lady is known to have knitted table-clothes for Goshavank, Haghbat, Makravank, Dadi and other temple's tables. The "natural correctness" mentioned by the great historian we can see on the khachkars intesting us even today. 13c created these monuments are the most magnificent ones among thousands of Armenian khachkars. All the mentioned monuments are situated above the avenue-like passage, in its left wing. Now let's see what constructions are there on teh opposite side, on the southern slopy plain of the hill. In front of the hall-vestibule's pillar row, on avenue's level is Hasan great's church with brick-dome, the spire of which is destroyed. It's the second construction in Lernayin Gharabagh's territory, where brick is used in building. The church, which is often called chapel for its small size has a quandrangle scheme. The roof and the walls are built from half-trimmed clay-stones. There are unusually many khachkars put in walls with memorials of donor patrons. The khachkar on the wall of the inside left bay is dated "Â. àÐ²" (1182). Even if this inscription was not made when the church was built, anyways, we should accept that the church had already been built for the mentioned khachkar to be fastened on the wall. South from Hasan the greats church, on a slope is situated the second chapel which by its architecture presents somewhat interest in the complex. The builder is again episkop named Grigor, whose inscription was left on the southern wall: "Â àÎ" (1211). The chapel consists of three adjoining halls. The first, large hall is built by the special way and resemblance of chapels. From outside the walls are built from roughly-trimmed and from inside clearly-trimmed stone. Four one-stone pillars carry the vaulted cover with a passage. By the richness of their types especially stand out the quadrangle bays and anchors of pillars, the cover of the central part, the stony benches placed along the northern wall. The next hall is smaller and that's why has three pillars instead of four. The last, third hall differs from the previous ones by its small sizes and receives light from the simple windows opened in walls. This one too, like the previous ones has only one door. There are two other similar buildings on the same slope, towards west. These ones too are divided into three halls each. If thse halls had common doors with each other, they could be considered a large apartment. These buildings are simpler. Later on hall-like apartments with wide passages were built on them. Dadi temple's hotel, work-house, writing-house, wine-press, creamery, sacred-house, friary's cells and number of other buildings are situated in the southern "region's" various spots, in the surroundings of which can be seen traces from grave-hills and old, destroyed buildings. Besides these three small chapels (in ramshackle condition) are situated outside the temple's ramparts, on the near hills. The whole southern territory of the monk complex till the bank of river Tartar is covered with gardens, once belonging to the temple, and most part of which now have joined the secular forest. So, Dadi temple's large complex can surely be considered a unique architectural school, where the best traditions of many-century Armenian architecture were generalized.