This famous monastery of Top Khachen is situataed on the left bank of Tartar, on a high hill, in village Charektar. Most likely the village’s name originated from the monastery’s name. The older name of this complex is unknown. The main church of the monastery built in 1260 according to tone of the inscriptions was called Surb Astvatsatsin.
The monastic complex is almost fully-destroyed, its trimmed stones were used in building dwelling and industrial buildings. The same fate overtook also the khachkars and gravestones, numerous pieces of which are scattered at the foot of the hill. Here has fully-preserved the church, remain separate parts of the vestibule, dining-hall, belfry and also khachkars, gravestones, and pieces with epigraphic inscriptions.
Examination of the preserved buildings in architectural-scheme aspect, the few written materials about them, the epigraphic inscriptions, and also the observations made in the area let us point out that the constructions supplementing the compositional appearance of the church refer to different periods. The church is a rectangular in scheme not large (sizes 7x 3m) basilica with a gable roof an rectangular-form altar in the eastern part. In Khachen there are many churches with similar altars, mostly in the valley of river Tartar. According to the building inscriptions they were built in XI-XIIcc. From the ruins of the vestibule in the western part of the church has preserved very little. The remainders of corner half-round towers in its southern part speak about that the vestibule was also part of the defense wall. From south to the church joins the dining-hall, stretched by north-south axis. Here has preserved the northern wall and the foundations of eastern and western walls.
Important historical value present the inscriptions of the monastery, 11 of which were published by S. Barkhudaryan in the fifth edition of “Vaults of Armenian inscriptions”. These inscriptions are dated 601 (1152), 709 (1206), 796 (1347), 809 (1360) years of Armenian chronology. There are also many undated inscriptions, which have concrete information about the medieval-period reality of Eastern Armenia. so, by the northern wall of the church on a stone-block is carved “By God’s will this is the letter of Nuradin, that gave (land) Patlanants to Koghtapan for my soul’s salvation. Leader of spiritual friary Hovanes and other brothers gave two days of liturgy on Saint Sargis’ day: one to me and another to Khorishah. The one who takes away the land or protests, will be cursed by 1318 fathers”. This inscription (undated) has wholly-preserved.
In the monastery, especially in the vestibule there were numerous gravestones. The khachkars and the gravestones, as the witnesses evidence stood out by magnificent processed vegetable or geometric ornaments. By an especially rich decoration stood out the gravestone of Grigor- the brave prince of Tsar province. Unfortunately, in recently past years judging by the scheme of the medieval-period monastic complex, some of its building were destroyed, except for an only preserved church, which is used as a cattle-shed.
<googlemap lat="40.137768" lon="46.344066" zoom="15"> 40.137768,46.344066, Charektar Monastery </googlemap>