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Arakelots Monastery

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XII - XIII AD - Tavush Marz

Main church

Acharkut (99 v, once Kunen), a formerly mixed village founded in 1930 as part of a forestry collective but occupying part of a once major 9-10th c. town site. On the N bank is an early church. On the slope S of Acharkut by the bridge, a dirt road winds uphill to a ramshackle cemetery church of S. Astvatsatsin (inscription reads: "In the year 1675 I Melikshahnazar son of Melikaslamaz of the Herume clan, and my wife Khanzate built S. Astvatsatsin by the hand of Master Hakop.") and a picnic area beyond. At the W edge of Acharkut, on the N side of the stream (medieval Sranots bridge somewhere nearby), the main village road ends at a locked gate, which a neighbor will open. About 1 km W of the gate, overlooking the muddy, rutted but passable track (ideal for mountain bikes), are the ruined but interesting remains of a caravansaray below the 13th c. Arakelots (Apostles') Monastery* complex. About 80 m further, a jeep track branches uphill to the monastery proper, visible on the crest of the hill in dense forest. Though the church is unimpressive, the forest setting, the mossy tombstones and substantial remains of the defensive circuit make this a rewarding site. The monastery is built on the left bank of the River Kunen, and lies on top of a densely wooded rise. It consists of two churches, a jhamatun, and a group of annexes, all enclosed with enormous turreted walls and constructed of huge stones quarried in the mountain. The church is architecturally notable for the roofing of the jhamatun (13th century). Above a square room, the roof is built in the hazarashen method traditionally used in Armenian homes, except that here stone is used in place of wood. This method involves the closing of a square by the placing of stone slabs across the angles of the square, touching adjacent sides, making squares one on top of the other, alternately at 45 degrees to each other.

There is a ruined chapel on the next hill as well. Supposedly, 2 km NE of Arakelots Vank on a flat place on the mountain ridge is the little church and khachkar of Khndzorut. [Information from: Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook (c) Raffi Kojian]

Interior of Monastery showing unique roof construction.