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Location: Amaras v., Artsakh
Established:  IV c
From Yerevan: 375km / 6h

Amaras monastery was a spiritual and cultural center of early medieval Artsakh; an episcopacy. The monastic complex is located in Martuni region of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Enlightener (according to historian Pavstos Buzand), though its construction is connected with the name of Grigoris, the first bishop of Artsakh diocese and grandson of Gregory the Enlightener; he is buried in the Eastern part of the church. There is a crypt on his grave. The creator of Armenian alphabet Mesrop Mashtots opened here the first school of Artsakh in the 5th century. At the same time there were 36 additional buildings for different purposes. 

In 487Armenian king Bachagan G found Grigoris’s grave and built a chapel on it and later – the church. The complex was attacked by Arabic hordes of Buga, Mongols, who could destroy only the part of the monastery as they met resistance from the clergymen. Nomadic tribes destroyed the fortress walls and the church, though the school still operated.  Even in the comparatively stable years: the second half of the 19th century, the monastery lost its religious and cultural role in the region, transferring into just a fortress and later into Russian-Persian customs point. 

The monastery is one of the most prominent Armenian architectural monuments of Artsakh of early period, which you can visit during tour to Artsakh. Amaras is built on a flat location; it is a regular rectangular construction with high walls, fortified with round towers at four angles. There are living and administrative building, constructed along the whole perimeter of the walls. 

In the end of the 19th century the monastery had estates: fertile lands, a garden and a mill. After the declaration of the Soviet rules it was left and abandoned. Again it opened as a working monastery in 1992  in the composition of the Artsakh diocese. Every year hundreds of people visit Amaras.  

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