Kirants Monastery

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XIII AD - Tavush Marz

To reach the remote but unique 13th-14th c. Kirants Monastery*, continue upstream past Arakelots Monastery. After another 5 km or so, one branch of the road turns left, crossing the Zayghoshani bridge (with Persian inscription: in the year of the Hijra 1207, early 19th c.) and ascending S toward Deghdznuti Vank of the 13th c. (1 km or so) and Samsoni Vank, another 6 km S of Deghdznuti (more reachable from Yenokavan). This monastery has a domed 12-13th c. church, a shrine and another small church. On the right bank of the Khndzorkut river, atop a mountain between Deghdznuti and Samsoni Vank is supposed to be the Berdakar medieval fort, with cisterns. Back along the main river track, at about 8 km from the gate on the main W track is a splendid modern local monument, a monumental stone-built picnic site with open-air museum* above -- a rock overhang closed with an iron grating, with local agricultural and household implements from the 19th c. Continuing upstream, dodging rocks and deep ruts, one finally sees at about 10 km Kirants Monastery*, 13-14th c. The main church is unusual for its brick construction and colored tile decoration. Somewhere around Deghdznuti Vank would have been Mahkanaberd, the fortress capital of the Artsruni family, who enjoyed quasi-autonomy in the area in the 11-12th c. Paragraph Source: Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook

The architectural ensemble of Kirants Vank (XIII c) is situated 12 km west of the village Kirants (till 1967 town Getashen) in the Tavush region of Armenia, on the left-bank of the picturesque wooded Kirants Jur River ravine.

It consists of three churches, two tunnel-vestibules, a refectory, and remainders of dwelling and auxiliary constructions, encircled in fortified walls with wide vaulted gates.

Most of the buildings (churches, tunnel-vestibules) are built of baked tuff (burnt brick) and from this point of view the ensemble presents one of the unique erections of medieval Armenian architecture (just like the church Srvekh, situated in the same region).

The main church presents two-pylon rectangle domed hall (dimensions 11,04x10,5 m), which in the eastern part closes with half-rounded apse and rectangular side-chapels, built on both sides. There are two entries, from the western and southern sides. The dome leans on hardly lancet arches, connecting the pair pylons and the corner parts of the apse.

The passage from the underdome square to the inside circle of the dome is realized through the mediation of sails. The front part of the altar and edge of the entry wall are built of huge clearly trimmed stones and are covered with natural and geometrical decorative motives.

On the outside stands out the dome with octahedral drum and a pointed hipped roof which visually stress' the vertical proportions. The drum's edges have prewall arches, in the bays of which are situated narrow windows with stretched proportions. The flat areas between the arches are decorated with figured multi-colored tiles, which intensify the artistic impression. The windows have casings, differing by color and volume machining, crowned with a big cross. The eastern faзade also has pair and triangle in cut bays.

The main church of Kirants vank, is of a type which originates in the domed basilicas of early medieval times (Odzun, Gayane, Mren, Bagavan) and was widely used in Armenian architecture of the XIII c (churches of S.Astvatsatsin of Bartsrakash cloister in Dsegh and Aktala, Karmravank in Astapat and others). It has great significance in learning the geography of its spread and its compositional peculiarities.

The tunnel-vestibules are in the the shape of vaulted constructions built in front of the entries of the church.

From the southern and western sides of the church small churches with one-nave vaulted halls are built under one lean-to roof.

The refectory is situated in the western part of the main church, 10 m distant. It presents a roomy (17,1x9, 5 dimensions) rectangular hall, which is covered with a semicircular vault, strengthened by arches, going up from three pairs of pilasters of longitudinal walls. There probably had been an entry from western side too (the traversal wall did not survive): the refectory has vaulted auxiliary rooms. It is built of torn and half-processed sandstone and cobblestone (the pilasters and the corner stones of entrance openings are clearly trimmed). It appears to be one of the most important monuments of medieval Armenian high-life architecture, the roomiest refectory of similar compositions (Kobayr, Geghard, Hnevank and others).

The main church and the refectory were plastered with lime mortar and covered with frescos inside.

The Georgian inscriptions of the latter evidence that the cloister belonged to the Chalcedonian religion.

Remainders of dwelling and commercial constructions of the community are preserved on the southern side of the cloister's territory.