The Churches of Artsakh
The Armenian Christians of Artsakh have built churches and monasteries in their territory for over 1700 years. We are proud to offer photographs for as many of these as possible. May God keep these precious, tangible evidences of Armenian faith in Artsakh across the centuries, and bless the people whose ancestral creativity has continued to produce them, from the earliest days of Armenian Christianity until the present.
Protector and hope of the faithful, O Christ our God, protect and keep the faithful Armenian people and the Armenian churches in Artsakh, under the shadow of your holy and revered Cross in peace. Save them from the enemy, seen and unseen, and make them worthy to praise you with thanksgiving, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Amaras Monastery was built in the 4th century by Bishop Grigoris, grandson of Gregory the Illuminator. In the 5th century, King Vachakan III erected a chapel above Grigoris’ tomb. Also in the 5th century, Mesrop Mashdots, inventor of the Armenian alphabet, established a school there.
St. Step‘anos Tzmakahogh
The present church of St. Step‘anos was built in the 12th century, but recently structures from the 5th-6th centuries were also discovered there, dating from the time of King Vachakan III.
Tsitsernavank in Khashat‘agh was built in the 5th-6th century. It is named for the relic of St. George that was housed there. The structure is mentioned by the 13th century historian Bp. Step‘anos Orbelian and by the 17th century writer Bp. T‘ovma Vanandets‘i. The church and its bell-tower were renovated in 1779. It was reconsecrated in 2001.
According to local tradition, Ghevondants‘ Anapat, located in the area of Sargsashen, housed the remains of St. Ghevond the Priest. The monastic complex contains remnants of structures dating from the 5th-7th and the 13th centuries. Inscriptions show that it was rebuilt in the 17th-18th centuries.
Okhte Drni Monastery near Mokhrenis in Hadrut was most probably built in the 7th century. According to local tradition, it was built by a young woman in memory of her seven brothers, who had died defending their homeland. The monastery has khachkars from the 10th -12th centuries.
The 7th century church of Vank‘asar stands above the partially excavated ruins of the 1st century BC city of Tigranakert.
Metsaṙanits Hakobavank in the area of Martakert was built prior to the 9th century, as an inscription dated 853 is found in its walls. The structure was rebuilt in 1212 and again in 1691.
Otskan Vank, located near Patara, is a 13th century complex associated with members of the princely family of Upper Khachen.
Bri eghtsi is a complex of four churches and other associated structures in Martuni province. According to local tradition, the site was built on the remains of a pagan shrine. Remnants of 5th-7th century stone decorations remain. According to its inscriptions, lower church dates from the mid 13th c. AD and was built by the architect Shahen.
T‘ezh Church, built on Mt. Ktich, dates from the mid-ninth century. It was built during the attack on Ktish fortress by the Califate’s general Bugha, and was erected in response to his destruction of the buildings at neighboring Gtchavank.
Katosavank, in Kashatagh, is a 9th-11th century monastery
Varazgom, located near Berdzor, is a 9th-11th century church. Its double-altar structure is unique.
One of Artsakh’s most famous monasteries, Dadivank, located in the Shahumyan region, was built over the course of the 9th-13th centuries, probably on the remains of a much older structure. It was renovated in 2004-2005 and its frescoes were recently restored.
Drpasut, located near Patara, is a 9th-14th century church.
Koshik Anapat, situated near Kolatak village, is a monastic complex with three churches sharing a common parvis, dating to the 12th-13th centuries. The altar inscription is from 1265.
Located not far from Gandzasar, Havaptuk monastery had an altar inscription dating to 1163. The complex has two churches and remains of other associated buildings.
Khot‘avank (aka Kichani Anapat) is a two-church complex constructed in the 12th century. It was later restored in the 17th.
Located near Martakert, the monastery named for the Apostle Eghishe, who in addition to Thaddeus and Bartholomew preached and taught in Armenian territory, was founded in the 5th century. It was restored and added to in the 12th-13th and the 18th century Prince Adam was buried in the complex.
Holy Mother of God
Located near Kilise in Karvachar, the Holy Mother of God convent complex for women dates to the 12th century. An inscription on the tympanum over the door was carved in 1174; a three-naved church bears an inscription made by the daughter of Prince Kyrike in 1178.
The present structure of Amenap‘rkich in Martakert dates from the 12th-13th century, but is built on the foundation of a much older structure set on a stepped base.
K‘ronk, located in Kashatagh, is a church complex within a cliff face. It dates from the 11th-13th centuries, and is mentioned by the 13th-4th century historian Step‘anos Orbelian in his list of notable monasteries.
P‘irumashen Church, in Sarushen, Askeran, was built in the 12th-13th century. It was restored in 2014.
Gtchavank in Hadrut is a 10th-13th century monastery . According to an inscription over the church door, that building was built in 1241-1258 by Sargis and Vrtanes, bishops at Amaras. The monastery had an active scriptorium and library, and for a time was the episcopal seat of the region.
Holy Illuminator Anapat Monastery was constructed in the 13th century near Ts‘or.
On the road from Stepanakert to Dadivank, Khatravank was built in the 12th-13th centuries and restored in the 17th. It has a two storey bell tower and cemetery. According to an inscription, the gawit‘ and associated structures were built in 1226 by the sister of the princes Zak‘are and Ivane.
Handaberdi Vank lies near K‘naravan in the Shahumyan region. It was built in 1276 by the Vardapet Davit‘, incorporating older structures. Further buildings were added in the 14th century.
Ekhtsi Ktor chapel is located in the village of Vaghuhas, in Mardakert. It was built in the 13th century.
Charektar Monastery lies in the Shahumyan region. Its Holy Mother of God church was built in 1260.
Amenap‘rkich Church is located near the village of Patara in Askeran. It was built in the 13th century.
The earliest mention of the Gandzasar Monastery is from the 10th century Catholicos Anania Mokats‘i. The monastery cathedral of St. John the Baptist was built in 1216 by Prince Hasan Jalal Vakhtangian, founder of the Hasan Jalalian line of prelates and meliks.
Horekavank (aka Glkho Vank‘) in Martakert is a complex of buildings. Its church was built in 1279 by Hovhannes, who also built the gawit‘ in 1284. The bell tower was added in the 17th century.
St. Step‘anos lies in the Hadrut region’s village of Togh. The present structure was built in 1747, using the stones of an earlier church. This in turn was built near what appears to be a pagan shrine of great antiquity.
The structure of Spitak Khach suggests that it was built no later than the 14th century. It lies in Hadrut province, in the village of Vank‘. The building was restored in 1735.
Located in Mets Taghlar village in Varanda province, Mayrkhat‘un Church was built in 1603.
The Holy Mother of God Church Shoshkavank in Msmna (Martuni region) was built in 1651 on earlier foundations. It was restored again in 1999.
Kavak‘avank was reconstructed in 1742 by the stone mason Grigor, on the remains of an older site. A triple-nave basilica, it lies in the rolling Artsakh foothills, in Hadrut region, where it served the spiritual needs of three nearby villages.
The Holy Resurrection Church in Hadrut was built in 1621. It was renovated in the 1990.
The Holy Mother of God Church in Banadzor, Hadrut, was built in the 17th century. The village was famous for its stone masons.
The Holy Mother of God Church is all that remains of the 12th century monastery of Tsaghkavank‘, located in Tsakuri, Hadrut. Renovations were begun at the site in May 2019.
Erits Mankants Monastery (the Monastery of the Three Youths) in Martakert region near the village of Tonashen was built I 1691. A center of manuscript production, it also served as a catholicosal seat. A major renovation of the monastery was underway in 2019.
Bovurkhan Monastery was built in the first half of the 17th century by Melik Baghr. The complex contains a church and a number of rooms for the brotherhood and various utilities. It is not far from the village of Nngi in Martuni region.
Churvish stands at the top of a hill in the T‘aghavard village in Martuni region. A simple, single-nave structure, it was built in the 17th-18th century.
Kataro Monastery was founded in the 4th century. According to the historian P‘awstos Buzand, Kataro Vank was attacked in 335 and the large monastic brotherhood was killed. The monastery appears to have been the diocesan seat of the province of Dizak. The present building, located at the top of Dizap‘ayt mountain, dates from the 17th century, and underwent restoration in the 19th. It was restored once again in 2017.
St. Hovhannes, located in Hadrut region’s village of Togh, is a 17th century church built on an older, 13th century structure. In 2017 excavations were done at the site, as restoration of the building began. The restorations were completed in 2019.
Shushi’s Green Church (Kanach Zham), aka St. John the Baptist, was built in 1874 to replace an older, wooden structure. It was named for its formerly green dome. In the soviet era, the church did not function. When it was last under Azeri control, it served as a clinic.
According to one story, All-Savior (Amenap‘rkich) Ghazanch‘ets‘ots Cathedral was built between 1868-1887 by Armenians from the Persian town of Ghazanch‘i. It replaced an earlier structure from the 16th century, which may have been built on a 4th century base. The present church also incorporates a bell tower built in 1858. The church was home to the relic of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s son, Grigoris. In 1998, the church was fully renovated. It was partially renovated again after the last Artsakh war, but was damaged again in 2020 by Azeri shelling.
The Holy Translators Church of Kaghartsi (Marduni) was built in the 13th century and restored in the 19th.
The Holy Mother of God Church in Martuni region’s Khnushinak village was built in the 19th century.
Kusanats Convent, Shushi, was built in 1816 with funds raised by Bahduryan and her brothers. It was destroyed during the 1960-1970’s occupation of Shushi by Azerbaijan.
All-Savior (Anemap‘rkich‘) Church in T‘alish, Mardakert, was built in 1894 by Makar Barkhudaryan. It is a triple-nave basilica with an entrance on the north side.
According to its construction inscription, Soorp Hovhannes Church at the edge of the village of T‘aghut, Hadrut, was built in 1896. It is a single-nave basilica with a single door and window, both on the south side.
The large Holy Mother of God Church was built in 1902-1907 on a hill in the center of the village, commissioned by Makich Grigoryan, an Armenian living in Baku. In 1992 Azeri forces destroyed it, but the arches and outer walls still remain.
Anapat Church (St. Vartan) near the cemetery of Togh village in Hadrut was built in the 17th century.
Mknatami Khach is a 12th-13th century church on a rock outcropping near the village of Ghushchi in K‘ashat‘agh (Lachin).
Tsera Nahatak is a 9th century monastery church near Patara, Askeran.
Located on a mountain to the south of Chartar village, Martuni, Ghsha Monastery (Eghisha Kuysi anapat) is a late medieval basilica with two pillars. It was a pilgrimage site in the 12th century, and was restored in the mid-17th.