Gorgian Churches Abroad

The Monastery complex of Akhtala

Posted on January 30, 2016. Filed under: Gorgian Churches Abroad |

Written By Tinatin Bujiashvili

The Fortress and Monastery complex of Akhtala is located in Lori region of Armenia, in the village named Akhtala.

In Kvemo Qartly, on the river Debeda, there is one of the most important Georgian Monastery Akhtala. Its old name was Coppermine Monastery. Establishment of Akhtala Episcopal Cathedral is linked to Vakhtang Gorgasali. He founded Episcopal residence, which was the most important spiritual centre of the region for a long time.

In the end of the IX century Kvemo Kartli was gradually dominated by Armenian Bagratuni. At first they controlled the gorge of Debeda, but in the XI century domination of Bagratuni ended in kvemo kartli except this region.

In the area of Akhtala there was found Qvajvari with Armenian inscription on it. It was about the erection of the Cross which was made by Mary, a daughter of Kvirike, for Akhpati the Holy Virgin Mary in Pghndzavank.  They were ancestors of Armenian Bagratuni of Lore-Tashiri. The XIII century Armenian historians Kirakos Gandzaketsi and Vardan Areveltsi inform us that Zakaria Mkhargrdzeli’s(Long-armed) brother Ivane Atabagi became orthodox and built a Georgian temple there. He was buried there.


There are three churches in monastery complex even today: The church of Holy virgin, the church of the Holy Trinity (consisting of two connected churches, a chapel, outside hall, and underground constructions). St. George church-the western part of the Holy Virgin church.


The church of Holy Virgin is situated in the middle of the fortress’ territory. It belongs to the domed basilica type of churches, where the bearings join with the side-chapels of the Apse. Two pairs of arches divided the longitudinal stretched prayer hall into three naves, the central one of which (with double side-chapels) on the eastern side ends with low staged, half-rounded apse and the side-chapels end with sacristies.

Signs of Georgian constructions remain in the structure of the scheme and in architectural decorations that have a Georgian style. This is evidenced by the vaulted vestibules on the eastern side, the relief crosses over the edges, the alcoves bordered with pillars and their scalloped bays, as well as the lavishly used decorative motives.


The Holy Virgin’s church is famous for its first-rate and highly artistic frescos, with which are covered the inside walls, the partitions, and the bearings. They are characterized with perfect iconography, richness of theme and variety of different colors (where blue rules). Especially outstanding are the Virgin on a throne, the sacred communion, Hovanes Karapet frescoes, as well as pictures of saints till the waist or standing in whole length, on the pillars and the bearings.

In the territory of the temple on the northwestern side there is a one-nave vaulted church and its half-rounded apse going out from the eastern wall’s borders. The only entrance is from western side, surrounded with a trench. There used to be a vestibule with a gable roof, which has not survived.


Parallel to the north of the Holy Virgin’s church the two-storied building of the temple friary stood, whose walls are preserved. It was a roomy hall with wooden roof, for which the exterior fortress wall served also as its eastern wall. The northern wall is half-rounded, and an entrance to the underground tunnel opens here.


The Monastery of Akhtala is one of the very few orthodox monasteries in Armenia, which was erected in the times of Armenian Renaissance. The fortress of Akhtala was built on an elevated rocky outcrop surrounded by deep canyons. It belonged to Georgian orthodox churches until 1921. Still today there are lots of signs of Georgian culture.

Currently the monastery has its pilgrimage days on September 20–21 Armenians, Greeks and Georgians visit the monastery on this occasion.

resource: dzeglebi.com



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Haghpat monastery complex

Posted on December 12, 2015. Filed under: Gorgian Churches Abroad |

Written by Tika Bujiashvili

There is a legend about building Hagpat. It is said that once upon a time a lord orders a master to build a monastery. The master and his son come to Sanahin and begin working. One day the father and son have a dispute. The son discomposedly leaves the building and goes away. After some time another lord orders the master’s son to build a monastery. Day by day son builds the walls of the monastery which become higher and higher. The master learns the news. One day he approaches to the unfinished walls of the monastery, watches them attentively, and then exclaims: “This is a really solid wall (hagh pat, solid wall)”. Then the master takes his son in his arms and they conciliate. Since those days the monastery is called Haghpat.

Today Haghpat is an active monastery in village Haghpat in the north of Armenia, 10 km from the town Alaverdi. Haghpat Monastery complex consist of many churches and buildings. They date to X-XIII centuries. On the second half of XIX century Haghpat becomes spiritual and religious center of Lore-Tashir region.


The largest church of St. Nishan was built during the kingdom of Abas I.  He was buried there too. It is the earliest building, which was buildt in 976-991 years. The Monastery is the best examples of medieval Armenian architecture.  Apart from one or two minor restorations carried out in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the church has retained its original character.

A small domed St. Grigor Church dates to 1005, two side chapels were added to the original church, the larger one built in the beginning of the 13th century and the smaller, known as “Hamazasp House”, built in 1257. In 1245, a three-story tall free-standing bell-tower was constructed.

Other 13th century additions include the chapel of Astvatsitsini dates to XII- XII cc. There are special buildings-a Refectory, a library, a chapel, a wine-cellar. There are also a number of splendid-Khachkars.



You can find Georgian inscriptions on the graves in the monastery graveyard.  On the main facade of Haghpat there is a bas-relief image of Ivan and Zakaria Mkhargrdzeli (longarmed).


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Since 1996 the monastery is listed among the list of UNESCO World Heritage list.

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