'X - XI AD - Shirak Marz'
Located to the northwest of Gyumri, this monastery has four churches (one of which, circular, has only recently been discovered with a jhamatun and a chapel); the jhamatun and the chapel are nearly in ruins. An inscription on the south wall of the main church informs us that it was built between 986 and 1029 by Prince Vahram Pahlavuni. Of cupola'd hall type with an umbrella shaped cupola, the church is constructed of huge stones, some of which are two meters high. Three of the exterior walls have double niches. The only entrance is on the west. Like the exterior walls, the drum of the cupola is adorned with half columns, which produce a beautiful decorative effect.
Leaving Gyumri on the main N road, turn left at a restaurant just past a set of post-earthquake international housing projects. A bad paved road passes the village of Marmashen (1212 v., until 1946 Verin Ghanlija). At the far end of Vahramaberd (696 v., 12-13th c. church in village), the next village, turn left, then follow the dirt road back along the gorge and then descend (right fork) to Marmashen Vank*. This impressive monastic complex sits on a picturesque shelf with fruit trees above the Akhurian River, beside a stream that ends in a waterfall. The Katoghike church of S. Stepanos was built by Vahram Pahlavuni, whose gravestone sits in the ruined gavit, between 988 and 1029. The gavit itself is 13th c. There is an Astvatsatsin church, and a S. Petros, and archaeologists found remnants of a fourth, nearly circular church, along with foundations of a pre-Christian temple and many service buildings. The complex was ruined by the Seljuks, and rebuilt by Vahram’s grandsons. On the hill N is a cemetery with a ruined chapel. There is a bridge probably of the 10-11th c. on the Akhurian nearby. Across the river, near an abandoned medieval settlement, are Bronze Age graves.
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