Ohanavan / Aragatsotn / Armenia

Hovhannavank (Armenian: Հովհաննավանք) is a medieval monastery located in the village of Ohanavan in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia. The monastery stands on the edge of the Kasagh River canyon, and its territory is adjacent to the village of Ohanavan. The deep gorge is carved by the Kasagh River.

The oldest part of the monastery is the single nave basilica of St. Karapet (i.e. Holy Forerunner, John the Baptist) that was founded at the beginning of the fourth century by St. Gregory the Enlightener, who baptized Armenia into the world’s first Christian nation. The wooden roof of the early church was replaced in 554 AD with a thatch cover, and the basilica itself underwent profound renovation between 1652 and 1734.

The centerpiece of the monastery is the Cathedral built between 1216 and 1221 through the donation of Prince Vache I Vachutian Amberdtsi (Վաչե Ա). The Cathedral has a cruciform floor plan, with two storey sacristies in each of the four extensions of the church. The dome has an umbrella-shaped roof, which is unique to Armenian churches. The Cathedral’s important decorations include carved scenes from the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13).

In 1250, Vache I’s son, Kurt I Vachutian, built a narthex (gavit) next to the western wall of the Cathedral. The narthex is supported by four base pillars and features a central rotunda (added in 1274) that rests on twelve columns. Between the 12th and 17th centuries, Hovhannavank was known as an important educational and theological center of Eastern Armenia that had a scriptorium where manuscripts were written and illuminated. The monastery was described in details in 1686 by the historian Zakaria Kanakertsi who spent his entire life at Hovhannavank.

37 min drive up from Yerevan
The location in Armenia

A beautiful glimpse from a far, this view is from nearby Saghmosavnk
This gorgeous 13th c Church built in 1216 “St Hovhannes Karapet”St John The Baptist sits on the edge of Kasagh River
There was beautiful crosses etched on the outside of the church on different coloured sandstone – some of the stones were new
I love the turrets which lets in beautiful streams of light into the dark interior of the church
The attention to detail is just amazing, the closer you get to it the more amazing it is
More detailes of drawings on the interior of the main church
Armenian words and crosses etched into the wall
The little chapel area to the side of the main church
I love how they have left the oiriginal blocks on the floor which gives the church its beautiful ancient feel when walking around
The usual side steps with no railings leading up to a small chapel area
The colourful ancient Monastery from the outside – fixed with new red sandstone pieces
There was a Russian / Armenian wedding group walking around taking photos which would have turned out so beautiful!

I loved this Monastery – quiet, isolated and beautiful with its golden red and brown sandstone etched with ancient crosses and Armenian letters