|Location||Artik, Shirak Province, Armenia|
|Affiliation||Armenian Apostolic Church|
|Architectural type||Small cruciform central-plan|
Lmbatavank (Armenian: Լմբատավանք; also Surb Stepanos meaning "Saint Stephen") is a church located on a hillside southwest of the town of Artik in the Shirak Province of Armenia. It was constructed in the 7th century and was dedicated to Saint Stephen.
Local folklore tells that Turkish invading forces tried to fire a cannon at the church of S. Stepanos. After firing twice at the structure and missing it, they tried once again and misfired the cannon in their own vicinity. The commander saw that what they were firing upon was actually a church and put a stop to the attack.
In more recent years, the church door is said to have been stolen by a man who was seen carrying it away on his back. When asked by the local residents, "What door is this?" he replied "The door to the church." They told him to bring it back, which he did. Since the door was taken from a holy place, it is said that he could not remove it from his back until he returned it to the church because it was stuck.
The church of S. Stepanos has a small cruciform central plan with a single octagonal drum and dome above. The dome is covered by an umbrella style roof, while the four arms of the church have gable roofs. There is one portal that leads into the building, and adjacent to the main entry to the church there is another doorless portal to a side chapel. Decorations are mostly circular shield type patterns on the exterior of the structure, and are limited to the saddles around some of the windows and to the eaves and cornices. Opposite the side of the church with the door there are some inscriptions that may be seen, along with a design of a hollow Cross pattée resting in the center of a circle located to the left of the lower window. This same cross design may be seen at other churches in the area of Artik, for example on the rear façade of the 5th century Surb Marine Church in the center of town.
In the interior of the church are important frescoes that date to the 7th century. Upon the altar and to each side there are remnants depicting Jesus in the center surroundeded by symbols of heavenly powers. There is also an image of Surb Gevorg riding a horse while holding a staff topped with a cross.
Between 1955-1956 the church was partially reconstructed. Excavations took place during 1960 to clear out the area in front of the church, and under the stones a Bronze Age cemetery and khachkars were found. Some of these khachkars may still be seen in and along the retaining walls next to the church. Other tombstones are nearby.
- Kiesling, Brady (2005), Rediscovering Armenia: Guide, Yerevan, Armenia: Matit Graphic Design Studio
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lmpatavank.|
- Armenian Architectural Studies
- Armeniapedia: Lmbatavank
- Program about Lmbatavank Monastery by Vem Radio