Noravank monastery complex

Noravank is located at a distance of 120 kilometers from Yerevan, in the Vayots Dzor region, one of the magnificent monastic complexes of medieval Armenia, . Due to its unique and extremely impressive architectural style, it is difficult to confuse it with any other complex. Well, the igneous rocks of Noravank gorge emphasize its uniqueness and beauty even more.

Noravank was founded in the 12th century on the territory of two churches that existed earlier. It was mostly rebuilt in the 13th-14th centuries. The founder of the complex is the abbot of Vahanavank, Hovhannes the Catholicos. Later, during the next two centuries, it was expanded by the Orbelians and became their family cemetery.

The monastery complex of Noravank consists of the tomb-church of St. Astvatsatsin (Burtelashen), St. Stepanos Nakhavka church, the vestibule adjacent to it from the west, St. From Grigor Church (tomb of Stepanos Orbelyan), from the remains of medieval chapels and buildings, from the newly built monastery.

St. Astvatsatsin / Burtelashen

St. Astvatsatsin (Burtelashen) church was built by prince Burtel as a family cemetery of the Orbelians. Surb Astsvatsatsin Burtelashen is one of the most valuable examples of tomb-churches preserved in Armenian architecture. it is one of the last works of the famous medieval master stonemason Momik. On the south side of the church, Momik’s khachkar-mortuary statue has been preserved. On the first floor is the tomb of the Orbelians. On the second floor is the prayer room, which is led to by narrow stairs going up on both sides. On the upper part of the tabernacle on the second floor is a sculpture of Christ surrounded by a pair of angels, and directly above the east window is a dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

On the eastern facade of the church, the coat of arms of the Orbelians is depicted: an eagle with a deer in its wings. There are two bas-reliefs at the entrance. The first of them depicts the Holy Virgin sitting on the throne, Christ kneeling, surrounded on both sides by Archangels Gabriel and Michael. And in the second bas-relief, Christ is depicted, next to whom are the apostles Poghos and Petros.

St. Stepanos Church

St. Stepanos Nakhavka Church was built in 1216-1233. By Prince Liparit Orbelyan. It is a domed structure. The vestibule of the church was built as a burial place for the leaders of the Orbelian dynasty and the monastery. There are also remarkable bas-reliefs here. One of them depicts the Mother of God, who is sitting and holding a child. The sculpture of the upper window is a unique work of carvings of God the Father, Adam, Christ and biblical themes.



The Saint Grigor chapel-tomb (tomb of Prince Smbat) was built in 1275. It was built by Siranes architect. Ten members of the Orbelyan princely family are buried.

Noravank also operated alongside the most famous educational centers, monasteries and writing centers of the Syunats world – Tatev Monastery and Gladzor University.

The article was compiled based on observations and materials collected by the ArmLand club.

Author of photos: Artyom Martirosyan