The Church of Berdavank

Location Berdavank is located in the Hadrut area, in the village of Ghuchilar (Figs. 1, 2).

Meghretsots St. Astvatsatsin Church

Location The Meghretsots St. Astvatsatsin Church is located in Shushi City’s upper district, approximately 600 meters south-west of the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral (Holy Savior Cathedral). Historical overview In 1838, immigrants from Meghri built the church in the district of the same name. According to the building inscription, it is known as St. Meghretsots Holy Savior Church, and was built with the financial help of Mahtesi Hakhumyants (Barkhutaryans 1895, 132). The church was demolished, renovated, and functioned as an outdoor movie theater in the 1960s (Fig. 1). Witnesses claim that it was nearly impossible to destroy the church’s strong and thick walls. During the Soviet period, the majority of the walls were demolished by explosions as a result of the Azerbaijani authorities’ extortion of Armenian cultural heritage, and the main walls were incorporated into the asphalt (Mkrtchyan 1980, 159). The excavations in the area were carried out in 2017 by the Artsakh Republic’s “State Service for the protection of historical environment” SNCO. As a result of the excavations, the asphalt layer was removed, and the church’s base was exposed (Figs. 2, 3). The territory was completely covered in asphalt prior to the excavations. Only the tabernacle and sacristies were visible on the site (Fig. 4).   The condition before, during, and after the war Prior to the war, only the eastern wall was standing, with the foundations of the other walls reaching up to 1 meter in height. There is no information available regarding the monument during or after the war. The monument is currently under Azerbaijani occupation. Bibliographic examination Makar Barkhudaryants (Barkhutaryants 1895) provides detailed information about the church. Mkrtchyan’s work on Artsakh’s historical and architectural monuments provided us with information about the monument’s condition throughout the Soviet era (Mkrtchyan 1985). Architectural-compositional examination  According to Makar Barkhudaryants, the church was constructed on the same principles as the Aguletsots church: the chapel had a rectangular spatial composition. The vaulted arches were supported by four pillars raised in the hall’s center and three pairs of columns on the hall’s longitudinal walls. It had two south-west entrances and ten windows. The bell tower was a three-story building made of polished stones. A small bell tower, similar to an octagonal rotunda, was also in the middle of the church roof, as is common in Artsakh’s contemporary churches. According to Makar Barkhudaryants, the following inscription was discovered on the front stone of the south door: “In 1838, Mahtesi Hakhumeants didn’t have an offspring to continue his lineage, so he built this holy church as a testament to letting the human race fly on high for the sake of the immortal name of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The earthly body is buried here, in this glorious tomb of a temple, in commemoration of the passing soul’s journey in the transient world, before the fulfillment of a new destiny.” (Barkhutaryants 1895, 132-133). The location of the slab, mentioned by the lintel, is currently unknown. According to the Karabakh Ecclesiastical Court’s verdict on the renovation of Meghretsots Church on May 13, 1839 (RA HSCA, p. 56, l. 1, c. 415, sht. 2-3, original manuscript), there was formerly a wooden church on the site. The document clearly states that the church was to be built only after 1839. The inscription on the facade’s stone most likely contains the construction date of the church’s initial wooden structure. The church is 24.75 x 12.77 meters in size, with walls up to 1.6 meters thick. It had two entrances, one on the south and one on the west; the adjacent parts of them were paved (Fig. 5). The Meghretsots Church, with its spatial-architectural solutions, is reminiscent of the historic churches of Artsakh from the 17th to the 19th centuries (Fig. 6).

St. Vardan’s church in Togh Anapat

Location The church is located on a steep slope in Artsakh’s Hadrut region, near the western part of Togh village (Fig. 1). Azerbaijan has occupied the Togh village since October 2020. Historical overview The information about the church’s construction is based on a local legend that “a man descended from nobles converted to Islam, then repented, and built the churches of St. Stephanos and St. Vardan as a symbol of sincere devotion” (Jalaliants 1858, 260). The church was also known as St. Vardan, according to Sedrak Barkhudaryan (CAE 5, 174). Architectural-compositional examination   It is a single-nave rectangle hall. The tabernacle and two sacristies attached to the tabernacle from the south, crown the hall from the east. Two bow-shaped arches extend from the prayer hall’s longitudinal wall pilasters and support the vaulted roof. . The western wall of the church is completely buried in earth, whereas the northern side is only partly buried (Fig. 2). The entrance is on the south side. Four small windows, three of which open to the east and one to the north, provide light. On a khachkar at the entry lintel, the only inscription from the church, “Khachs Vardan” (Barkhutaryan 1895, 51), has been preserved. Several tombstones, most of which are buried in the earth, have been preserved inside the church (Fig. 3). Melik Bakhtam’s tombstone is one of them. According to the inscription on his tombstone, he died in 1787 after being poisoned by Ibrahim Khan (CAE 5, 178). The cemetery surrounds the church, with the majority of the tombstones dating from the 19th and 20th centuries (Fig. 4).

The rock-hewn church of Tandzut

Location Tandzut is a village located in the Kashatagh region, in the western part of the Hakari River, in the left tributary of the Aghavno. During the Soviet era, the village was also known as Garygyshlag. Many caves that have been inhabited for over a thousand years can be found here, on high-altitude rocks. The watermill ruins, road traces, remote caves and hermitages, as well as the medieval rock-hewn church, all point to the existence of a cave dwelling on the canyon’s left side during the middle Ages. The village is located at an elevation of 1300 meters above sea level. Historical overview There is no information about this church in historical sources. Architectural-compositional examination The church is hewn in stone, and its facade is built into the southern cliffs. (Fig․ 1)։ The church is built on a single-nave basilica architectural plan. The prayer hall is 5.8–2.5 m in length and 4.4 m in height. The church’s entrance is on the south side, with two inward-widening windows. On the east side of the tabernacle, four rock stairs lead to a rock-hewn stage (Fig. 2). The tabernacle has two window niches carved into it. The stone was removed from the Holy Tabernacle’s table, and its location is visible. The only separately made component in the church’s structural system is this stone. The church’s interior decoration is simple and restrained. The walls are well-designed, but there are no inscriptions on them (Fig. 3). A natural arch has been preserved on the west side of the church, through which the road leading to the sanctuary once passed. On a large rock in the center of the arch and the church, there is a hole resembling a khachkar in shape. There was undoubtedly a khachkar-monument here, which was destroyed by the Muslim inhabitants.

St. Hovhannes church of Qaraglukh (Hadrut)

Location The church is located in an elevated area of the village Qaraglukh in Hadrut region (Fig. 1). Historical overview It was consecrated in 2013 and is a newly built church. Architectural-compositional examination In terms of structure, it’s a tetraconch church. It has a tetragon shape from the layout and is cross-shaped from the inside. The presence of sacristies in each of the four corners emphasizes the cross-shaped structure. The squinch system creates a transition between the cupola volume and the drum. The church is built of polished tufa (Fig. 2). The building is supported by a three-degree anchor. On the west, south, and north sides, there are three windows. The entrance is on the west side, and the door has an inscription on it (Fig. 3). On the eastern wall, there are two St. Hripsime-type niches and one window (Fig. 4).  The condition before, during, and after the war Before the war, the church was fully steadfast. There is no information about the monument during or after the war.    

The Monuments of Shikaqar Qaraglukh: St. Astvatsatsin Church of Qaraglukh

The church is located in the Askeran region, near Parukh village (Figs. 1, 2). It has a 19th-century architectural construction, but tombstones and khachkars from older periods used in the lining of the walls prove that the current church was built on the foundations of the old church here.

Surb Vanes Church

Location The Ghrali rural settlement is located on a plateau, south of the confluence of the Varanda River’s tributaries Navtakhan and Kichintap, 1.9 kilometers north-east of Jraghatsner Village. The church of St. Vanes is located in the area of the settlement, in half-ruined condition, and nearby, the cemetery and ruins of other adjacent buildings are also preserved. The current Jraghatsner village was formed by the residents of the Ghrali rural settlement at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Historical Overview There are no historical facts about the settlement or monument group. There is also no historical information available about the construction of Vanes Church. It was most likely reconstructed in the second half of the 17th century in the location of the old sanctuary. The khachkars and records enchased in the wall, which date back to the 16th century, attest to this (Figs. 2, 3). The oldest monument at the ancient site is a khachkar enchased in the western facade, which dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. (Figs. 4). The cemetery is located around the church, and the existing tombstones primarily date from the 18th and 19th centuries (Figs. 5, 6). St. Vanes Church remained a sanctuary for the people of the surrounding settlements even after they had left the village.

St. Astvatsatsin Church of Karintak

Location The church is located in Karin Tak village in the upper district of the Artsakh Republic’s Shushi region. The church is currently occupied by Azerbaijan as a result of the 44-day war in Artsakh. Historical overview According to the inscription engraved on the right side of the central window of the south façade, the church was built in 1841. (Fig. 1).

The “Kkven buyn” church

Location The church, known as “Kkven buyn” (Kkvi buyn, or the cuckoo’s nest), is located 1.5 kilometers north-west of Avetaranots village in Artsakh’s Askeran region. It is situated on the top of a forested hill on the eastern edge of the old rural settlement. Historical overview     The Avetaranots settlement has a rich cultural- historical heritage and served as the center of Varanda province as well as Varanda’s rule. The “Kkven buyn” church is one of the village’s many cultural-historical monuments (Fig. 1). Traces of medieval rural settlements can be seen in the church’s western-eastern foothills. There is no historical data regarding the church or the dwellings. The architectural features, as well as the khachkars and rock crosses on the site, allow the ancient monument to be dated to the 12th–14th centuries. For centuries, the chapel served as a place of pilgrimage for residents of neighboring settlements. Architectural- compositional examination The church is a single-nave vaulted hall with a 5.5×4.5-meter rectangular layout. It is built from local split stones and lime mortar (Fig. 2). The vault of the church has crumbled (Fig. 3). The entrance is on the east side. The entrance lintel and curbstones are missing. A small east-facing window provided lighting. The church does not have an accentuated tabernacle. It is divided from the main hall by small niches in the wall that run from north to south and are used to store church objects. The medieval cemetery surrounds the church and contains many khachkars and tombstones (Fig. 4). The majority of cemetery monuments are weather-beaten or fragmented. On the flat surface of one of the rocks in the area, two cross sculptures have been preserved (Fig. 5).

The St. Astvatsatsin church of Kyuratagh

Location The St. Astvatsin Church is located in the village of Kyuratagh in the Republic of Artsakh’s Hadrut region. The village is currently occupied by Azerbaijan. Historical overview There is no historical information available about the church. While describing the village, Barkhudaryan mentions the church (Barkhutaryants 1895, 72-73). Architectural-compositional examination  The architectural plan of St. Astvatsatsin’s church is rectangular (Fig. 1). On the inside, it is a vaulted hall. The church is made of rough and polished stones (Fig. 2). The only entrance is from the south. The rich decorative ornamental patterns capture the eye (Fig. 3). The church was built in 1683, according to the inscription on the lintel (the inscription is engraved in a left-right direction from the cross in the central section of the lintel) (Fig. 4). The following inscription is engraved on the left side of the cross sculpture: “This church was built in the year 1683 during the reign of Suleiman and Catholicos Jeremiah.”

Church of the Holy Virgin in the Village Jraghatsner

  Location The Church of the Holy Virgin is located in Jraghatsner village of Askeran region of the Artsakh Republic. The village is now occupied by Azerbaijan. Historical Overview There is no historical information about the Church. Makar Barkhudariants, describing the village, mentions the newly built Church of the Holy Virgin in the village (Barkhudariants 1895, 95). Architectural-Compositional Description The Church of the Holy Virgin is located in the center of the village (fig. 1). It is a single-nave vaulted hall, the vault is slender and bi-centered in the section (fig. 2). The church has a high altar, an almost rectangular apse and two sacristies; the inner walls are plastered (fig. 3). The Church of the Holy Virgin is built of rough stones, only the cornerstones, the stones of the entrances and windows are polished. In terms of its architectural style, the church is close to the urban architecture of Shushi; the builders were probably from Shushi. The church has two entrances, one from the west and one from the south. There are three large windows on the south façade (fig. 4). The construction inscription is engraved on the western entrance door (In memory of this Church of the H[oly] Virgin, /which was built in the village of Jraghatsner in 1882/ at the expense of the whole society of believers (fig. 5).  The State Before and After the War During the Soviet years, the church was turned into a warehouse, and an annex was added on its western side. The church has been renovated. It was not destroyed after the 2020 war and the occupation of the village, but there is a video where the Azerbaijani militaries are saying a Muslim prayer right inside the church. For more details see https://monumentwatch.org/hy/alerts/%d5%a1%d5%a4%d6%80%d5%a2%d5%a5%d5%bb%d5%a1%d5%b6%d5%ab- %d5%a6%d5%ab%d5%b6%d5%be%d5%b8%d6%80%d5%a1%d5%af%d5%a1%d5%b6%d5 %b6%d5%a5%d6%80%d5%a8- %d5%b4%d5%a1%d5%b0%d5%b4%d5%a5%d5%a4%d5%a1%d5%af%d5%a1%d5%b6/.

The Church of Yeghtsi (Kilisa) village

Location Yeghtsi village is located in Nor Shahumyan (Karvachar) region of Artsakh, in the valley located in the middle of the gorge on left side of the middle stream of the Trtu River, at an average altitude of 1620 above sea level, in the central part of the rural area (Fig. 1). Historical overview There are no available historical data on the village, its historical name is not known, too. The toponym was named Yeghtsi after the re-liberation of Karvachar. Apparently, the Kurds who settled in the village at the end of the 19th century, based on the existence of a preserved standing church, named the village Kilisa. Judging by the architectural and construction solutions of the church, it was probably built at the beginning of the 17th century.   Architectural-compositional description The church was built of local rough stones and lime mortar (Fig. 2). It is a single-nave basilica with a vaulted roof (external dimensions: 14.15×7.80 m). The semi-circular vault is supported by two pairs of pillars and an arcature (Fig. 3). The semicircular altar on the eastern side has vestries from the north and south (Fig. 4). Inside, the baptismal font is placed in the northern wall. The vestries have a rectangular plan and lack any windows. The illumination of the church hall was provided through four small windows opening from the east, south and west. The only entrance is from the south (Fig. 5). The most emphasized part of the church is the portal, for whose frame three khachkars belonging to the 11th (left) and 13th (upper and right) centuries have been used (Fig. 6). The two side khachkars bear inscriptions. On the pedestal of the left side khachkar we read: “I, axman Hasan, erected this holy sign as an intercessor to me and my departed” (Karapetyan 2019, 382). At the bottom of the other khachkar is the dated inscription, where we read: “In the year of 1246 of Armenians, I – smith Grigor, erected this cross for me and my spouse” (Karapetyan, 2019, 380). Holistic and fragmented khachkars were used on the upper parts and sides of the windows. There used to be a cemetery around the church, of which almost nothing has been preserved, except for one gravestone in the southern courtyard. Fragments of other gravestones and khachkars are visible in the walls of village houses built in the second half of the 20th century and in their vicinities. Dozens of engraved crosses have been preserved on a rock mass about 20 m north of the church (Karapetyan 2019, 380-384). The northern wall of the church is covered with soil and merged with the slant slope. The western part of the roof is partially destroyed.

The Grigor Narekatsi Church

Location The Grigor Narekatsi Church (fig. 1) is located on a hill about one km to the west of Drakhtik village, Hadrut region. The name Narekavank is more common among the locals. Drakhtik has been under Azerbaijani occupation since October 2020. Historical Overview The Drakhtik village is located 24 kilometers away from the city of Hadrut. M․ Barkhudariants mentions about the village: “The inhabitants are natives” (Barkhudariants 1895, 58). Architectural-Compositional Examination It is a single-nave hall with a rectangular plan. It is 13 meters long, 8 meters wide, 4 meters high. The building ends inside with a semicircular apse. The cupola rests on arches rising from three pairs of wall columns. It has a two sloped roof in outside. The only entrance opens from the west. The light comes from the windows that are opened in the west and the east walls. The western facade is decorated with four khachkars (fig. 2, 3), a phenomenon that is especially typical of the church building of the 17th-18th centuries. Inside the church there are several small khachkars fixed to the walls, there are also khachkar sculptures on the columns and arches (fig. 4, 5). The date of construction of the church: ՌՂԴ։(1645) is preserved on one of the hewn stones surrounding the entrance (fig. 6) and on the north central wall column inside the church (fig. 7). An old cemetery is surrounding the church. The State of the Church Before, During and After the War During the first Artsakh war, the eastern wall of the church and a part of the cupola were damaged by enemy shelling (fig. 8). The church has not suffered from the military operations of 2020, there is no information about the post-war state.

The Church of the Holy Virgin in the Village of Aknaghbyur

Location The Church of the Holy Virgin is located in the center of the village of Aknaghbyur (previously Gharabulagh) of the region of Askeran in the Artsakh Republic. The village in now under Azerbaijani occupation. Historical Overview There is no historical information about the church. Describing Gharabulagh, Makar Barkhudariants notes: “The Church of the Holy Virgin, made from limestone, is in danger…” (Barkhudariants 1895, 95). In his voluminous work Shahen Mkrtchian only mentions this church (Mkrtchian 1985, 207). Architectural-Compositional Description The church is a three-nave building with a rectangular plan. It has a wooden ceiling, a little part of which has been preserved, that rested on stone wall columns and the central wooden column, just like the churches of the 19th century of the Ararat Valley. Taking into consideration this circumstance and the architectural solution of the southern entrance, one can suppose that the church was built at the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th century. It is built with the local white limestone (fig. 1). The walls are built with hewn and semi-hewn big and small stones. The entrances and their lintels, the corners of the church, as well as small windows are also made from hewn stones. The church had two entrances at the west and the south. Later the western one was closed and transformed into a window. On the eastern side the church has three windows (fig. 2). The old cemetery of the village is surrounding the church (fig. 3, 4), with its grave-stones of mainly 18th-20th centuries (Ghahramanian 2015, 30). The State of the Church before and after the War The church was not damaged during the Artsakh war. Before the war of 2020 it was already in a badly wrecked state. The walls have great fissures and crumbled parts. During the Soviet years the partly damaged church was reconstructed and used for practical needs. The western entrance was closed and transformed into a big window, while the demolished cupola was replaced by a roof which rests in the center on wooden columns, simply erected on the pavement (fig. 5). After the war of 2020 and the occupation of the village, there is no information about the church.  

Gyavurkala Early Christian settlement and the church

Location The archaeological site of Gyavurkala (literally, “Fortress of the Unbelievers”) is located east of Nor Haykajur village in Martakert region of the Artsakh Republic (Sofulu in Aghdam region in Soviet times). Gyavurkala settlement was partially studied by Azerbaijani archaeologists in the 50-70s of the last century, who emphasized the Christian affiliation of the settlement (Vahidov 1965, 167-183). The ruins of an unearthed early medieval church (they were covered again with soil after the end of the Soviet period excavations), the necropolis with sarcophagi, and the pillar of an early medieval cruciform obelisk can still be seen here (Fig. 1). Historical overview There is no available data from historical sources on the settlement and the church.  Architectural-compositional examination In 2013, the Artsakh Tigranakert expedition team (H. Petrosyan, N. Yeranyan, L. Kirakosyan, L. Minasyan) carried out excavations of the ancient church of the archaeological site. These excavations provided an opportunity to make preliminary observations about the Gyavurkala settlement and the single-nave church located there (Fig. 2). The settlement stretches over a hill, which is 6.0 m elevated from the surrounding plain. The upper flat surface is 160.0 m long from east to west and 120.0 m from north to south orientation, occupying an area of about 2.0 ha. Preliminary observations bring to light the remains of a group of architectural complexes. The ruins of an early medieval church can be observed in the southern part of the settlement․ South and south-east of the hill, about 100 m from the center, there is a necropolis with early Christian slabs and sarcophagi (Fig. 3). Fragments of early medieval architectural details – cross-shaped ornaments, column bases, obelisks, their pedestals and other fragments can be found everywhere.

The Church of Aghbatkhert

Location The historic Aghbatkhert settlement and church are located in the upper valley of the Aghavno River, about 3 km south of Hak village in the Kashatagh region of the Artsakh Republic (Fig. 1), at an altitude of 1550 meters above sea level. After 44-day war, it is under the control of Azerbaijan. Historical overview We can meet the first mention of the name of the monument in Stepanos Orbelyan’s “History of the Province of Syunik”, where it is mentioned as Aghakhird or Aghakherd in the list of tax-paying villages of Tatev. However, according to Aleksan Hakobyan, there is a mistake, due to which Aghbatrekht – the last village of Aghahetchk canton, was mentioned as the first village of Haband canton followed by Aghahetchk (Hakobyan 1982, 276). No other historical data is available about the monument. Architectural-compositional examination The church of Aghbatkhert does not have the volumetric solutions typical of a spiritual structure. It consists of two adjacent rooms built of local raw stone and lime mortar, whose entrances are opened from the southern side. The structure with 150 cm thick walls is surrounded by ramparts (Fig. 2). The fact that they are churches is evidenced by the nine-line inscription on the southern wall of the eastern room (Fig. 3), where the rooms are called Mother of God and St. Gregory: “By the will of God, I – priest Manvel, afterwards renewed the [rooms] of Our Lady of God and St. Gregory, in memory of my soul, my father – priest Kirakos, my mother Mina, my brothers – friar Tiratzu, Tateos. Remember [us] in Christ, and God will remember you. Servant Vardan – the priest of the church. Remember in [your] prayers: in the year of 1419. Remember Tatos in [your] prayers” (Hakobyan 2009, 230).

St. Mariam Astvatsatsin Church of Arakel

Location St. Mariam Astvatsatsin Church (Figs. 1, 2) is located on a hillside in the northwestern part of Arakel village in Hadrut region. It is presently under the occupation of Azerbaijan.

St. Hripsime Church of Vardashat

Location St. Hripsime Church is located in the center of Vardashat village of Hadrut region (Fig. 1). Historical overview Vardashat village is located 3 km west of Hadrut town. In historical literature it is referred to as Vordnashat. Speaking about the village, M. Barkhudaryan mentions: “The residents of Vordnashat have moved from Mil town, the land is fragile and less productive…” (Barkhutarian 1895, 46). In the Soviet period the name Edisha was used, in the post-Soviet period it was officially named Vardashat. Since October 2020 Vardashat has been under Azerbaijani occupation. Architectural-compositional examination It is a single-nave hall with a rectangular plan. It has a semicircular altar with two vestries. The bema is currently destroyed. It is built of local gray limestone. It is vaulted internally, has a gabled roof outwardly, which used to be covered with asbestos sheet during the Soviet years. It has three windows on the eastern, western and southern sides. The entrance, surrounded by hewn stones, opens from the south (Fig. 2). The year 1896, which is probably not the year of the construction of the church, but rather the year of its reconstruction, has been preserved on the lintel with decorative ornaments, since the year of 1695 has been preserved on the sundial on the southern wall (Fig. 3). We read on the inscribed stone embedded in the southern wall: “This is the name of the church” (Fig. 4). A tombstone with a simple cross is placed on the immediate threshold of the entrance (Fig. 5). To the north of the church, the old cemetery is preserved with standing tombstones. The church was used for economic purposes during the Soviet years.

St. Astvatsatsin Church of Madatashen

Location The church is located in the centre of Madatashen village.   Historical overview According to M. Barkhutaryants, it is a monument “newly built, of stones cemented with lime mortar” that was constructed at the end of the 19th century (Barkhutaryants 1895, 70). Architectural-compositional description It is a single-nave hall with a half-circular altar and adjacent vestries. It is built of local white limestone and lime mortar. The arch walls, windowsills and corners of the building are made of hewn limestone (Figs. 1-3). The dimensions of the monument are 16.7 meters long and 9.5 meters wide. The roof is collapsed (Fig. 4). The only entrance opens from the west, has 3 windows on the southern and eastern sides, and 1 window on the western side.

St. Amenaprkich Church of Karmrakutch

Location The church is located in Karmrakutch village, at an elevated point (Fig. 1). Historical overview Although Makar Barkhutaryants brings references on the church, the year of construction is missing. The dates of construction (1844) and renovation (1964) are engraved on the arch lock stone of the entrance facade (Fig. 2). Architectural-compositional description The church is a single-nave hall with a semi-cylindrical vault, an eastern semicircular altar and adjacent vestries. It is built of rough limestone and lime mortar. The cornerstones, windows and door sills are hewn. The dimensions of the monument are 12.8 m long and 7.4 m wide (Barkhutaryants 1895, 70). The only entrance is from the southern side. The hall is illuminated through narrow windows from the eastern altar and the western facade and the opening of the belfry crowned with a six-column rotunda in the center of the vault (Fig. 3). The church was restored in the 2000s and covered with tiles.