Gndevank as seen from the road to Jermuk
|Location||10 km SW of Jermuk,
Vayots Dzor Province, Armenia
|Affiliation||Armenian Apostolic Church|
The monastery is located on the west side of the Vayk-Jermuk road on the bank of the Arpo river. The old road is blocked by landslides and the monastery is approached by walking about 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) from the junction with the old road, after a bridge crossing. About 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) away from the church is the rock known as "Vartan Mamikonian." There is a spring water in the vicinity of the church and a few picnic tables.
The monastery was built in 936 AD by Princess Sephia of Syunik. She stated the purpose of her building the monastery as: "Vatoits Dzor was a ring without a jewel but I built this monastery as the jewel for the ring". Priest Sargis was the first abbot of the church. Priest Yeghishe was entrusted the responsibility for its construction. In 999 AD it was expanded with a gavit, a narthex or entrance to the church. In subsequent years the monastery was fortified with walls around it, under the orders of Abbot Petros (Peter).
The monastery, which was damaged during an earthquake, was refurbished during 1965 and 1969. Further renovations were done during 2013. In 1875, several items of religious paraphernalia were found in a secret chamber in the church.
The church, well preserved, is dedicated to St. Stephen. It is built in the form of cross-dome of four apses, and has circular tambour (inverted bell of the Corinthian capital) over a cupola, a dome structure. There are four altars in the church. The gavit, added in the western part of the church, which was an addition made in subsequent years, is in the shape of barrel and is vaulted and appears like a tunnel approach to the church. Abbot Christopher built the vaulted hall with two chambers. Sargis, who succeeded him, ordered the construction of a canal from the Vararakn River for providing water supply to the church, which is still functional. On the southern and western side of the compound wall monks' living quarters have been built.
Of the surviving wall paintings is one by Yeghishe of Jesus Christ, on the altar wall. Another notable painting in the church is of Mother Mary on the northern annexed wall, which is said to be a masterpiece of the late middle ages in Armenia. The surface of the pendentives have carved images of the evangelists. The tomb stones around the church have carvings of interest. Some of the stones have carvings such as a scene of hunting an ibex next to a falcon, and hunting of a boar. Khachkars (cross stones) are also seen here.
- Auzias, Dominique; Labourdette, Jean-Paul (18 December 2012). Arménie 2012-2013 (avec cartes, photos + avis des lecteurs) (in French). Petit Futé. ISBN 2-7469-6170-9.
- Holding, Deirdre (1 September 2014). Armenia: with Nagorno Karabagh. Bradt Travel Guides. ISBN 978-1-84162-555-3.
- Jones, Lynn (1 January 2007). Between Islam and Byzantium: Aght'amar and the Visual Construction of Medieval Armenian Rulership. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7546-3852-0.
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