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4 - front view of st cross monastery of varak in van.jpg
Varagavank in 1900.
Varagavank is located in Turkey
Shown within Turkey
Basic information
Location Bakraçlı village, on the slopes of Mount Varag
Geographic coordinates 38°26′59″N 43°27′39″E / 38.449636°N 43.460825°E / 38.449636; 43.460825Coordinates: 38°26′59″N 43°27′39″E / 38.449636°N 43.460825°E / 38.449636; 43.460825
Affiliation Armenian Apostolic Church
Status destroyed by Turkish Army in 1915
Architectural description
Architectural style Armenian
Groundbreaking 11th

Varagavank (Armenian: Վարագավանք Varagavank, meaning Monastery of Varag), also known as Yedi kilise (Turkish for "Seven Churches"), sometimes spelt Yedi Kilisa, was a prominent Armenian monastery whose ruins are located on the slopes of Mount Varag (Erek Dağı) 9 km east of the city of Van in Turkey's Van region.

Founded in the early 11th-century on a pre-existing religious site, it was the richest and best known monastery in the Armenian kingdom of Vaspurakan and, in later centuries, was the seat of the archbishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Van.[1] On April 30, 1915, the Ottoman army destroyed the monastery during the Siege of Van as part of the Armenian Genocide. Its ruins are still visible in the Kurdish-populated village of Bakraçlı that later developed on the same site.


The monastery of Varag was founded by King Senekerim-Hovhannes of the Artsruni Dynasty early in his reign (1003–24) to house a relic of the True Cross that had been kept in a simple 7th-century hermitage on the same site. The interior form of the central church recalls features in the Saint Hripsime church at Etchmiadzin.[2]

A now-destroyed inscription on a church to the south of the main complex indicates that the site had already been expanded by Senekerim's wife, Queen Khoshush, in the 980s.[3] It also was the location of the necropolois of the Artsruni kings.[3] Over the years, Varagavank became the richest and most celebrated monastery of the Lake Van area.[3] The Armenian archbishops of Van resided here until the late nineteenth century. One of them, the future Catholicos Mkrtich Khrimian "Hayrik" (Father), founded Artsiv Vaspurakani (The Eagle of Vaspurakan), the first newspaper to be printed in historical Armenia.[3]


Among the burials at the necropolis of the Artsruni House at Varagavank included:

  • King Senekerim-Hovhannes, who died in 1024 in Sebasteia (Sebastia, Sivas)
  • Queen Khoshush, the widowed wife of King Senekerim-Hovhaness (buried by his side)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Varagavank' Monastery". Rensselaer Digital Collections. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Retrieved 2009-05-03. 
  2. ^ Armenia, Travels and Studies. Volume 2. The Turkish Provinces By Harry Finnis Blosse Lynch - Page 114
  3. ^ a b c d Hewsen, Robert H. (2000), "Van in This World; Paradise in the Next: The Historical Geography of Van/Vaspurakan", in Hovannisian, Richard G.,  Armenian Van/Vaspurakan , Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces , Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers , p. 28, OCLC 44774992 

External links[edit]

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