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Aghjots Vank Monastery

Churches and Monasteries

Aghjots Vank is а 13th-century monastery situated along а tributary of the Azat River Valley within the Khosrov State Reserve, located a half mile walk from the hamlet of Mets Gilanlar.

38.3 km

​Aghjots Vank is а 13th-century monastery situated along а tributary of the Azat River Valley within the Khosrov State Reserve, located a half mile walk from the hamlet of Mets Gilanlar, and near the villages of Goght and Garni (approximately 3-4 miles). Not far from this location, the fortress of Kakavaberd and the monastic complex of Havuts Tar can be found.


The Story

According to local folklore, the monastery was founded by Grigor Lusavorich upon the site of the martyrdom of priest Stepanos (Stephen), a supposed companion to Saint Hripsimé during the time of Armenia's conversion to Christianity in 301 AD. The early Armenian historian Agathangelos wrote that Hripsimé, a Christian nun in Rome, was to be forcefully married to the Roman emperor Diocletian. She and the abbess Gayané, among other nuns, fled from the tyrant emperor to Armenia. When the Armenian King Trdat discovered where the nuns were hiding, he fell in love with Hripsimé. After her refusal of his advances, Hripsimé was tortured and martyred at the location of Saint Hripsime Church, while Gayané was tortured and martyred at a separate location where Saint Gayane Church was later built in 630.

The exact date that the monastery was founded is unknown, although it is known is that the monastery was funded by Princess Zaza during the 13th century. The complex of Aghjots Vank consists of the church of Surb Stepanos and the church of Surb Poghos Petros. St. Stepanos was built during the early 13th century and is the main church within the complex. It has a cruciform plan with four portals, and the vaulted church of St. Poghos Petros (built in 1270) is attached to the northern wall. Poghos Petros has remarkable bas-relief carvings of Saints Peter and Paul over the portal.

Getting to Aghjots Vank

Though in Ararat Marz, this site is easier to access from the village of Garni in the Kotayk Marz, where you must first enter the Khosrov Reserve on rough 4x4 dirt tracks which continue down into the Reserve. Instead, turn upstream along the Azat River for 5km and cross a small bridge. Turning left before the gate along an even rougher track, brings one in 200m to Baiburt, where a simple ruined basilica stands alone located left of the road, among ruins of old dwellings. Baiburt now houses three families of Reserve employees. There are allegedly remains from the pre-Christian period in the vicinity.

Another few kilometres uphill past Baiburt, on a poor jeep track, is the hamlet of Mets Gilanlar, with a few simple wooden huts. Turning left just before Gilanlar, where a less travelled track winds around the side of the hill, the track continues to a valley across from which are the ruins of the Aghjots Vank and St. Stepanos Church.

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