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Location: Martakert region, Artsakh
Established: 1240
From Yerevan: 348km / 4h 47min

Gandzasar is a monastic complex, spiritual and cultural centers. The monastery is located in Martakert region of NKR, on Gandzasar hill, near Vank village. The complex was called after the hill; silver and other metals mines were found in its depths.

Gandzasar was the residence and ancestral crypt of Khachen's Hasan-Jalalyan dukes. Due to the efforts of Hasan-Jalalyan dukes Gandzasar preserved the role of spiritual center. The monastery had rich repository of manuscripts, school, where valuable manuscripts were created, spiritual leaders were educated. They had their great contribution in the development of spiritual and cultural lives of Khachen and nearest settlements.

St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (John the Baptist) church was built in 1216-1238 by duke Hasan-Jalal. From 1400 up to 1816 Gandzasar was the residence of the Catholicos of Aghvank. In the beginning of 18th century Catholicos Yesai Hasan-Jalalyan gathered here the leaders of liberation movement of Karabakh and Syunik. Gandzasar had preserved the role of liberation movement center until 1815. From 1923, after forcible annexation to Azerbaijan, the monastery, unfortunately, did not function. It was possible to restore the complex only in 1993-1997.

The monastery is significant with its architectural trim. In the external ornament of the church the architect highlighted the drum of the dome. The drum is divided into 16 triangular grooves, where bass-reliefs of the two churchwardens, Adam and Eve, Christ and Holy Virgin are. The richly ornamented exit: the compositional center of Western front of the parish, strikes with uniqueness and mastery of the work.

According to the historical records, here Hovhannes Mkrtich's skull, Hovhannes Mkrtich's father Zacharia's blood, Gregory the Enlightener's jaw, holly relics of Healer Panteleimon and other martyrs are buried.

The monastery was the main religious center of Western provinces of Armenia for centuries. Sculptured bass-reliefs of biblical characters and the members of princely family are still preserved. Basically, there are 200 manuscripts preserved in the monastery. The parish of this church was the ancestral crypt of Khachen dukes. Churches and monasteries in Armenia will surprise every visitor.  

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