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Ptghni Church

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V - VI AD - Kotayk Marz

P'tghni Church

Ptghavank (Պտղնավանք, in the Ptghni village of Abovyan region) is situated in the center of an archeological plot. While doing some work here there were found the remainders of dwellings, different commercial buildings, as well as ceramics and other worthy artifacts.

The Ptghavank Church is one of the most important representatives of the domed hall type of church. The exact date of foundation of the temple isn't known. The examination of historical records and the architectural form of the construction give some reason to believe it is circa VI c.

The whole dome stood on massive pylons underneath the wall. The passage from the square under the dome to the base of the octahedral drum was realized through the mediation of the tromps, the remainders of one of which remains in the NE corner of the square under the dome.

The longitudinal east-west axis of the church ends with the altar apse with side-chapels on either side. Only two bottom rows of the apse's walls remain.

The northern wall and the eastern section of the comparatively well preserved. Only the eastern facade had trianglular bays. Many wide windows lighted the entire interior of the temple. The temple had three entries - from the north, south and west. They were mounted by portals with pair pillars, the remainders of which were discovered during excavations in 1964.

In the domed halls of the arch, connecting the wall pylons with the eastern and western walls, on which leaned the cylindrical vaults, parallel to the west-east axis, at the same time presented the bearings for the walls raised above them. Together with the walls raised above the pylons they made cruciform in the top part of the building. In the center of the cross the massive drum of the dome raised. Only one underdome arch transferred from one southern wall to the northern remains.

On the facades are the casings of the windows with vegetable and animal ornaments peculiar to the early period of ancient Armenia's architecture.

The casing of the central window of the facade should be specially mentioned. In the round medallions the portraits of saints were placed, and in the center angels carried a medallion with Christ's image.

Two ornamental stones are especially interesting: their features sharply differ as by the scene being depicted and by the style of the sculpture. These stones may have been brought here from more ancient monument during construction of the temple.

On the capitals of the pylons delicate valutes were carved, combined with vine and pomegranate reliefs.

P'tghni Church inside view

On the trimmed stones of the walls remain the signatures of the workers, as it was a custom in ancient times. Under the preserved northern cornice a row of pitchers is pictured.

In 1939-1940 the temple was partly restored. In 1964 the blockage cleaning works were organized, a church attached to the southern wall in XIX c was moved away.

To reach Ptghni (907 v), you leave Yerevan on the main Sevan highway, take the U-turn at the traffic police (GAI) station soon after all the roads from Yerevan converge, before the Abovian turn-off, then immediately right, following an asphalt road that curves down to the right into Hrazdan gorge. Taking the first right turn possible into the village, thread along an unconvincing asphalt road until a grotesque, silver-painted concrete WWII memorial on the right looking fiercely over the gully. Take the first left thereafter, and the 5-6th c. church of Ptghni*, an imposing ruined basilica, comes immediately into view. Verin Ptghni (624 v) is adjacent. Getamej (515 v, till 1948 Ketran) is the next village north inside the gorge. Founded in 1317, many of its residents came from Turkey in 1920. Its road network is twisted at best. (Paragraph Source: Rediscovering Armenia Guidebook.)