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Bagaran (Armenian: Բագարան) is a village in the Armavir Province of Armenia. During the medieval period, Bagaran was a much larger town and fortress that straddled both banks of the Akhurian River and the right bank of the Araxes River, and served as the former capital of medieval Armenia. A small Kurdish-populated village called Kilittaşı now partially lies on the Turkish side of the border.
Bagaran was founded at the end of the 3rd century BC by the Armenian King Yervand II (212–200 BC). It became a spiritual center of Armenia during the Ervanduni dynasty. After fall of Ervanduni and rise of Artashesian dynasty in 189 BC, the first king of the Artashesians, Artashes I, removed all pagan monuments from Bagaran and relocated them in his new capital of Armenia, Artashat. Later Bagaran became part of the feudal province of the Kamsarakan dynasty, which passed to the Bagratunis in the 8th century. In the 9th century, after the re-establishment of Armenian Kingdom under the Bagratuni dynasty, Bagaran became a capital of the Armenian Kingdom for the short time. King Smbat I (890-914), who replaced Ashot I (885-890), in 890 moved the capital of his territory from Bagaran to Shirakavan. However, during the whole period of Bagratuni dynasty, Bagaran remained one of the most prosperous centers of the kingdom. Many members of the Bagratuni rulers, including Ashot I, were buried in Bagaran.
In later centuries Bagaran lost its importance due to numerous foreign invasions. At the start of 20th century there was a village at Bagaran with a population of more than three hundred Armenians. In 1920 this part of the Armenian Republic was captured by Turkey and the Armenian population had to leave for Armenia.
According to Joseph Orbeli, inscriptions on the church of St. Theodore at Bagaran were located at the exterior of the whole building starting at the northern face of the western apse and running across, northern, eastern and southern. This building, built in the year 624 according to an inscription on its walls, was one of the most important examples of early medieval Armenian architecture. It was largely intact before 1920 but is now entirely destroyed.
- Hakobyan, Tatul. "After years of isolation, the ancient capitals of Yervandashat and Bagaran are now open to visitors." Armenian Reporter. April 10, 2009.
- Hewsen, Robert. "Bagaran". Encyclopedia Iranica Online.
- Manuk-Khaloyan, Armen, "In the Cemetery of their Ancestors: The Royal Burial Tombs of the Bagratuni Kings of Greater Armenia (890-1073/79)," Revue des Études Arméniennes 35 (2013): 134-42.
- (Russian) Orbeli, Joseph, Izbrannye trudy. Yerevan, 1963, 390.
- Bagaran at GEOnet Names Server
- Report of the results of the 2001 Armenian Census, National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia
- Brady Kiesling, Rediscovering Armenia, p. 39; original archived at Archive.org, and current version online on Armeniapedia.org.
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