Makenis Monastery

On the outskirts of the village of Makenis, Gegharkunik region, the Makenis Monastery is located – one of the medieval Armenian miraculous monastery complexes. Mentioned in the early Middle Ages. The monastery was one of the famous religious and educational centers of Armenia.


In bibliographic sources and on stone inscriptions, it is mentioned as Makenots, Makeneat, Makenatzots, Makestan, and other forms. The origin of the name of the Makenis monastery is traditionally associated with the name Maka. “Maki” means “sheep”. There were a large number of sheep in the monastery. According to other sources, local monks always wore robes made of sheep’s wool (maku), and presumably the origin of the name Makenis is connected with this. Another hypothesis is related to the name of Grigor Syupa’s daughter – Make. According to legend, the prince built a church and named it in honor of his daughter.

The Makenis community and the monastery complex did not escape the Tatar-Mongol invasions that began as a result of the destruction of statehood. The monastery, rich in church estates, was destroyed and looted, and when a Turkish element appeared in the village, the village, like the church, was renamed Kzlvank, which means “Golden Monastery” in Turkish. Later, during the years of the Soviet Union, the village received the name Chichaklu, which means “Tsakhkestan”. In 1977, the village was again renamed Makenis.


The complex consists of 37 monuments, with the main one being the St. Astvatsatsin Church, along with a courtyard, two vaulted churches, one nave church, a cemetery, and a wall.

Inside the courtyard stands the main temple of the Virgin Mary. It is a cross-domed structure with niches in the corners. Ruins of numerous cells and other buildings are also visible here. The walls once bore sculptures and frescoes. Nearby, khachkars dating back to the 9th-10th centuries have been preserved.

To the west of the Virgin Mary stands a simple vestibule, added in the 10th century. On the western side of Astvatsadin once stood a single-nave church built in the 7th century, now completely destroyed.

Beyond the wall stood two vaulted churches.


During the reign of Soghomon Makenatsi, the abbot of Makenis Monastery, this monastery became the most renowned religious and cultural center of the Gegharkunik region. The school, established by Soghomon Makenatsi, has thrived for nearly a century. The historian Hovhannes Draskhanakertsi studied here, and teachers came from both Syuniat and various locations across Armenia. The curriculum included philosophy, theology, psalm singing, and music. It was in Makenis that Soghomon Makenatsi created the “Festive Collection,” a comprehensive anthology of Christian holidays, deeds, testimonies, and speeches, also known as a selection of speeches based on the content. Charyntir was crafted in the Makenis monastery in 747, with information about it preserved in the largest Armenian manuscript, “Msho Charyntir.” Soghomon Makenatsi is cited in sources as a “Wonderful man” and the “Pride of the Motherland”.


In the Middle Ages, the monastery was so famous that the historian Movses Kahankatvatsi described it as “the great capital of Makenatsvatsi.” The monastery housed Saint Makeñata with the relics of Toast, brought from Edessa in the 11th century. I sign the cross.

In 728, the raiders of the Persian Baban from Atrpatakan invaded the province of Gegharkunik, killing 15 thousand people, plundering the Makenis monastery, and burning and destroying all the buildings of the monastery. Before this, fleeing from danger, half of the parishioners of the Makenis monastery under the leadership of the Monk Soghomon were relocated to the Zresk monastery, and the other half to the Yeghishe Apostle of Artsakh monastery. The abandoned and destroyed monastery was restored in 788 by Soghomon Garnet.


During the Arab invasions, the abbots of the church dispersed to other monasteries, and the Makenis monastery lost its former glory. After the destruction, the monastery was restored in 788, but the main restoration took place in the 9th century, during the second half, when Grigor Supan 2nd became the ruling prince of Gegharkunik. At the end of the 9th century, he completely rebuilt the main monastery – St. Large-scale construction was carried out here, including the Astvatsatsin Church. He donated gardens to the Makenis monastery in Garni, Yerevan, Yeghegis, 5 stalls in Ani, herds, etc. On the eastern wall of the church, he wrote a large inscription about his deeds, of which only fragments have survived. The historian Stepan Orbelyan once transcribed it and included it in his work. Other repairs, including those from the 17th century, have been preserved on the walls of the temple. Records of the repairs have also been preserved.

The article is compiled based on observations and materials collected by the  ArmLand  team

Photo: Historical environmentand cultural museum-reservations