Vank Cathedral (Tbilisi)
The Armenian church of old Tbilisi, known as Vank Cathedral, is properly named Church of the Holy Mother of God of the Mens Monastery. It was also known as Arantsvank or Pasha vank - Cathedral of the Holy Fathers, and later - Astvatsatsin (Holy Virgin). This Armenian Cathedral was the largest religious building of the old Tbilisi.
Vank Cathedral, located on the surveyed well with all parties in the place of the old town in the area Tapitah (in Georgian version - Gareubani - "Skin and quarter"), a few meters from the right bank of the Kura River. Tapitah, in turn, is divided into several blocks, one of which was known as "Vank." In addition to palaces, mansions and gardens belonging to members of noble families in the region Tapitah are, also, crafts and trade stalls, a caravanserai and a few Armenian churches in particular - and Kamoyants Zrkinyants St. Gevorg. Sam Vanksky Cathedral located on Grand Street Vankskoy (later - Gareubanskaya now - Atoneli).
The cathedral was built of high quality bricks. The composition is unique to the construction of medieval Armenian architecture. According to the characteristics of the professor, corresponding member of NAS RA, MM Asratyan, the church was a domed basilica with three naves and three pairs of domes. All three ended in the nave on the east side semicircular adder equal size, not protruding from a rectangular loop exterior walls. Aisles, covered with vaults with separate gable roof, crossed in front of these adder transept, over which were built three of the dome. Three of the altar of the temple were decorated with beautiful frescoes and devoted, respectively: average - the Mother of God, North - Holy Apostles, South - St. Gregory the Illuminator. The decoration of the temple were used, besides the Armenian and Persian elements and decorative arts. Russian writer and traveler, Eugene Markov wrote that the main shrine of the Armenians - Vank Cathedral of Zion was much more original. He noted the tower, covered with beautiful blue tiles, entrances with arches, painted with colors and gilding, embedded in the exterior walls khachkars with sculpted images. "Inside the temple altars are in the line of the iconostasis. Rear seats for women separated peculiar wall, and choirs from the eyes of their closed part of the lattice. Generally in this area in all the surrounding streets are living almost exclusively Armenians. " And here is how the construction of this wonderful Professor L. Melikset-Beck, "three naves, and trehaltarny trehkupolny Vank cathedral-like three-nave chapel porch, and attached to the church of Blessed Virgin Sanahin Cathedral."
Documentary historical evidence of the date of the grounds and buildings of the original Vank church has survived. There are some quite contradictory and mutually exclusive versions. The earliest date of foundation is given by the Armenian priest Gyutom Aganyantsem. According to his information, the original church was built during the time of St. Gregory the Illuminator in the IV century, from her, he said, in a subsequent fragments of the church walls in the eastern facade of the temple. Date of foundation of the same cathedral Aganyantsem is based on the registry of the Armenian antiquities Tiflis. According to these data, the cathedral was built in 931, the spiritual brothers - Umekom, Sudzhapom, and Aryutsem Dzhalapom.
According to a member of the Congregation of Venice Mkhitarists M. Bzhishkyantsa, the original church was founded at the beginning of VII century and was called the Church Katoghike. It was destroyed during one of the Ottoman invasion in Tiflis.
In 1480 the cathedral was rebuilt, and it was done so thoroughly that later some researchers (eg, I. Ioseliani) was seen as the founding date of the year: "The building cost Tiflis mokalakov Avsarkisova, Bastamova, and Nazarbegova Okaev, as well as the Georgian tavada Solagova in 1480. "
There is a theory that the original church was founded much later - in the last quarter of the XVI century. In 1630 the church was renovated, "a kind of Pope Iosifovich Shergilyantsem." Moreover, states that while it increased in size three times. In 1715 the church underwent restoration again - this time at the initiative of George and Perigulyana Melkonov Bastamyana.
According to the epigraphic inscriptions on the south wall of the temple in 1720, during the reign of Vakhtang VI-th, on the foundation of the ancient church began construction of a new church. Construction took place during the reign of Catholicos of the Armenian Church Astvatsatur I-th (1715-1725 gg.): "Thanks to our Lord Jesus in the kingdom of the king of Georgia Vakhtang and his son Bagrat hristomoguchego and patriarchy srbazana Astvatsatur, when leadership is astapatskogo vardapet Petros built the Church of the Holy Name Illuminator ours, their means of pious Khwaja Guluntsa Giorgi, in memory of him and his parents and wife and sons all bogokrepshih. Now, reading this, ask the Lord for pardon. " Of the other relating to the temple of epigraphy, we note the inscription on the restoration of one of the domes in the 1199 Armenian chronology (1750), as well as the rebuilding of the temple complex, done during the reign of King Irakli II-nd in 1237 (1788) . In 1800 the cathedral, according to J. Ioseliani, has been updated "great zeal mokalaka Tiflis, archpriest Ter-Kazar Lazarova."
In the XIX century cathedral Vanksky subjected not only to many changes, but also supplemented with additional facilities: a museum, and the gates of the residence, which bears the inscription on the wall survived to the present day bell tower: "At the end of the verbal instructions of the spiritual father of my narodolyubivogo Nerses Catholicos of All Armenians, has ended residence in Tiflis, the 1861st I, Sarkis, humble Bishop Hassan Dzhalalyants, and I pray I remember a day when words run out, and it will reign. "
In 1882 the project was considered complete destruction of the temple and build in its place an entirely new church. However, March 4, 1884 a commission composed Chithyana O., A. Mantashev Tsovyanova I., A. Shamharyantsa, G. and A. Sundukyan Sundukyantsa decided that the restoration of the cathedral, which was completed in 1901. Novopomazanie church leader made the archbishop of the diocese Gevorg Surenyants.
In the case of Vank cathedral, it actually is not about one church, but about the whole religious complex. In the cathedral complex, besides the church, were also the residence of the abbot, accommodation (according to 1816 there were 23), Ter-Gukasova sarcophagus, three-tiered bell tower, a chapel, church gate and fence circumferential wall. Close to the conciliar complex adjoined a large Armenian cemetery, known since the Middle Ages. Wank for a long time served as the cathedral of the Armenian archbishops Georgia-Imereti Diocese of the Armenian Church.
French traveler Jean Chardin XVII century wrote: "Pasha Wank - that is," Pasha convent. " In this monastery inhabited by the Armenian Bishop of Tiflis. Church of the so-called because, according to the Armenians, built some pasha who had fled from Turkey and in this city has accepted Christianity. " The legend, of course, beautiful and entertaining. However, given the fact that the Armenians - citizens of the Ottoman Empire - the same happened, bore the title "pashas," we believe that Chardin was wrong, and the temple, of course, was founded by the Armenians - may come from Western Armenia.
It is known that Vanksky Cathedral has been studied and the German naturalist and explorer Johann Gyuldenshtedtom, who copied and translated into German some of the available epigraphic inscriptions here.
A member of the Congregation of Venice Mkhitarists Bzhishkyants M., who was in Tbilisi 20 years of the XIX-th century, wrote about Vankskogo Cathedral: "The hotel is located in the quarter Tapitah and is the residence of the Archbishop. It has three terraced altar, and five domes, decorated inside with frescoes different. " Mentioned Vankskom Cathedral in his memoirs, and the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II-nd.
In the fence Vank Cathedral - famous at the time of Vank ayate - was buried the ashes of many of Armenian social, political and religious leaders and philanthropists, including the second person in the nomenclature hierarchy of the Russian Empire, the author of the first Russian constitution, Count Mikhail Loris-Melikov (d. in 1888), the leaders of the diocese - Archbishop Gabriel Aivazian (1880), Esai Astvatsaturyana and Karekin Satunyana (1910), Bishop Khoren Stepanyan (1890), as well as the heroes of the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878. Generals Arzasa (Arshak) Ter-Gukasova (1881), Ivan Lazarev (1879) and Bebutov Shelkovnikova (1878), Chief Editor of "Ardzagank" Abgar Ioannisian (1904), Chief Editor of "Megu Hayastani" Simonyants Petros (1891), urban Goals - Poghos Izmailyantsa (1895) and Alexander Matinyan (1909), State Councilor Davit Gorganyantsa (1900), playwright Gabriel Sundukyan (1912, his remains were reburied in the Pantheon of Armenian Culture in Tbilisi), patron Hovsep Efendiev (1862) and many others. Here in the churchyard were family tomb (mausoleum) and a chapel erected over the grave of a famous industrialist and philanthropist of Armenian Mantashev Alexander (1911, remains were reburied in the churchyard in St. Echmiadznetsots).
In 1815 in one of the smaller rooms of the temple Catholicos Nerses Ashtaraketsi opened the first elementary school for 20 students. In 1822 in the cemetery in Vank Tapitahe the construction of the seminary, which was completed in 1825. In the yard of the Seminary was founded by Armenian printing house, where in 1858 a book was published "Wounds of Armenia" Khachatur Abovyan - the first book in ashkharabar. In 1893 at the initiative of Mikhail Tamamsheva and the means of patron Avetis Ghukasian in the wall of the cathedral began construction of the complex religious and historical (Gukasyanovskogo) museum, which was inaugurated on the feast day Vardanants February 21, 1902 Catholicos of All Armenians Mkrtich Hrimyanom. During the genocide Wank ayat was a place where there is usually going to Armenian refugees from the Ottoman Empire - people looking for each other and their families.
After the Sovietization of Georgia church for some time been in a derelict state. In 1938 the city authorities to address the religious complex of Vank, among other places of worship of the old Tbilisi, was simply wiped out. And the first from the local Armenian population of deceit and threats to collect signatures in support of this decision. This is how it was written in the Georgian Soviet press, "Representation of the Board granted the application of Tiflis Tiflis workers Armenians, who were asked to destroy the building Vank church. Land will be allotted for the construction of the Armenian complete high school. " So, in place of the temple was built and still valid school number 104, in 1939 destroyed the building Gukasyanovskogo museum. At the same time, the Communists razed to the ground and the famous Vankskoe church cemetery. Silent graves were opened, and ruthlessly destroyed. Many valuable things the deceased joined the foundations of local museums. That's what the witnesses told later:
"Loris-Melikov was lying in a coffin as a living, but after a few seconds after the coffin lid was removed, the dust turned black and disintegrated. At the same time, apparently, the children carried off to play with the dress uniform epaulettes, and the bishop's cross from the neighboring grave. However, since the cross was decorated with gold and precious stones, followed quickly came ... Where are the epaulettes of his uniform, Loris-Melikov, nobody knows. Dust was later reburied in the courtyard of St. Gevorg church today - the main Armenian Church Tbilisi. " We add that in addition to the dust of the Count Loris-Melikov, in the courtyard of the Church of St. Gevorg able to rebury the remains of the generals Ter-Gukasova, Lazarev and Shelkovnikova.
Today there is no old Vank. All that remains of the church complex Vankskogo today - is the spire of the bell tower survived miraculously, but part of the building's residence, which is now an ordinary apartment building.
Source of this text: http://forum.vardanank.org/index.php?showtopic=135847