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Kaptavank Monastery

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XII - XIII AD - Tavush Marz


Turning N in Navur, [just before reaching the town of Berd], an adequate dirt road leads to Chinchin, (587 v). The 13th c. (or maybe 1151) Kaptavank (Կապտավանք) Monastery lies W of the road, only about 1 km N of Navur but a stiff hike over the ridge. Alternately, there is a dirt track from Itsakar, towards the end of the long village, that rises up and again gets you pretty close to the monastery before the mud stops you (4x4 needed) with only a 15 minute walk to go. In the environs of the church well up very cold springs.

The monastery, sited in a glade, is surrounded by picturesque ravines and wooded mountains. Only one church remains of the former cloister complex. Ruins of the vestibule and other buildings join the southern and eastern wall.

The church, built in the middle of the XII c (according to the inscription on the western wall was illuminated in 1151) is almost square outside (11.4 x 9.46 meters), and has a rectangular hall inside. In the inscriptions it is referred to as the Church of the Holy Virgin. The church is primarily built of roughly trimmed and broken limestone of a bluish tint (most likely the name comes from here). The church has four side-chapels in the corners. Restoration work using smaller stones can be seen on the church.

As the khachkars (in the laying on the drum) of late medieval times show, the dome is a result of consequent reconstruction. Evidence of two or three-layered plaster are preserved on some parts of the walls.

The cloister was at one time surrounded with fortification walls, outside of which there were dwellings which have not survived.

50m from the church to the SE a historical cemetery is situated, with three holes found to its N. Lime was obtained by burning limestone in these holes. Almost ??m distant to the SW on the slopes of deep and rocky inaccessible ravines there are walls, built of rough stone and lime mortar, which were small sanctuaries.

Three km W of Chinchin, looking down on the Hakhum river valley, is the 6-4th c. cyclopean fortress of Berdakar.

[Information From: Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook.]