8 March, 2018 Gegharkunik Region 2474 Views

Hayravank Monastery

The beautiful 9th-12th century monastery Hayravank is perched on a rocky outcrop above the Sevan lake. This monastery Hayravank is also referred to as Airivank, Hayr Hovhannu Vank (Father Hovhan’s monastery), Mardaghavnyats monastery.


Legend
The name “Mardaghavnyats” (meaning dove-men) is linked to a legend according to which Abbot Hovhan used the remnant of the True Cross during the 1381 Timur Lenk’s invasion to convert thousands of Armenian captives into doves and later set them free.
There is an underground road connected the monastery (also referred to as Airivank) with the Spitak (Berdkunk) fortress located 1 km to the north. Many Armenians were saved during Mongol invasions in 1381, when Mongol leader Tamerlane agreed that as many people who could fit into the church would be spared from massacre. When Armenians entered the church, they were transformed into pigeons, thus the building could fit everyone from the surrounding areas. (They most likely escaped through tunnels from the monastery).


Complex
The 9th century church St. Stepanos and 10th century chapel are the older parts of the complex, whereas the gavit was a 12th century addition to the complex. There are several magnificent kachkars in the churchyard and a small souvenir shop. The monastery operated until the 19th c. Hayravank monastery was renovated and the church dome was reconstructed in 1980s. 
To the northwest a short distance from the site, are the remains of Bronze Age through medieval fortification walls and foundations of a settlement.  

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