According to the building inscription, the church was built in the 7th century. In the 60s The temple is in a dilapidated state. In the past, the interior was covered with frescoes depicting the Ascension, which have now almost disappeared. In Aruch, the ruins of Bronze Age tombs, an old castle, a caravanserai (13th century) and other monuments have been preserved. In the dome, about 7 meters high, Christ was depicted holding a scroll in his left hand. The name of the artist Stepanos is written under the pedestal.

The Church of St. Gregory (Aruchavank) is the main monastic complex of the village of Aruch, located at the foot of the eastern slope of Mount Aragats, in the Aragatsotsn region. Arucha Monastery is one of the most important spiritual and architectural monuments of Armenia.

In the 60s The temple stands, but is in ruins. In the past it was covered with frescoes depicting the Ascension, which have now almost disappeared. Bronze Age ruins, an old fortress, a caravanserai (13th century) and other monuments have also been preserved. At the top of the altar, about 7 m high, is a figure of Christ holding a parchment in his left hand. Under the pedestal is written the name of the artist, Stepanos. The palace mentioned in bibliographic sources, which was also built by Grigor Mamikonyan on the south-eastern side of the temple, was discovered during excavations in 1948-1951. This monument of secular architecture of the early Middle Ages consists of two separate buildings, one of which is columnar, nd its layout and details (columns, anchors, capitals) resemble the structure of the Dvina Catholic Church. The second building is east of the first.

One of the most interesting temples in Armenia from the point of view of architectural history, although not very expressive visually. This is a large cathedral, built in the Muslim era, and almost by personal order of ruler Grigor Mamikonyan. This is the first hall-domed church in the history of Transcaucasia and the first temple with a dome on sails, which is especially surprising. This is perhaps the last thing that Armenian architectural culture created before plunging into the crisis of the “Dark Ages”.

Aruchavank was built at a difficult moment in Armenian history. In the 640s, when Theodoros Rshtuni ruled Armenia, the Arabs came to Transcaucasia. After a series of battles, Rshtuni surrendered, and in 652 recognized dependence on the Arab caliphate. He died in 656, and the Rshtuni clan lost power. Hamazasp Mamikonyan became the new ruler of Armenia. He died in 662 and his brother Grigor Mamikonyan became the ruler. It is he who is considered the builder of Aruchavank.

Armenian architecture was experiencing its short-lived rise: the Hripsime Temple, the Gayane Temple, the Talin Cathedral, Etchmiadzin had already been built, and Zvartnots had just been completed. Armenian architects recently learned to build domed churches, and then central-domed churches. Grigor did not yet know that around the year 650, an economic crisis, known as the “Dark Ages,” began invisibly in Byzantium. It will lead to the decline of the entire culture in both Byzantium and Transcaucasia for 200 years. Grigor did not know this, he had resources, and he began to build the cathedral.

Aruchavank is like the closing bracket of an entire era. The Avan Cathedral was its beginning, Aruch became its end.

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

Author of photos: Artyom Martirosyan