Churches and Monasteries
On a peninsula above one of the most popular beaches in Armenia lies the very simple monastery of Sevanavank, one of the most visited sites in Armenia.
The Black Monastery
"The Black Monastery" or "Sevan Holy Apostolic Monastery" is situated on Sevan Peninsula. The proposal of building such a monastery was initiated by Catholicos Mesrop Eghivardeci and was developed by Princess Mariam, the daughter of king Ashot I in 874 of rough black and orange stones on the ruins of a 4th century monastery destroyed by Arabs. St. Mesrop Mashtots had a vision of 12 figures walking across the lake, who pointed him the place where the church had to be erected.
Sevanavank Monastery was originally a complex of three churches, two of which are still perfectly preserved to this day. When it was completed, the level of water in Lake Sevan was much higher than it is today, and the whole monastic complex was located on an island.
Later, during the 20th century, the lake was artificially drained and the level fell about 20 meters creating the peninsula. Besides the churches the complex included printing houses, guest houses, warehouses and a refectory. In the 19th century the monastery was a place to reform errant monks – there was a strict regime and no women were allowed.