Location The church is located in the village, northeast of the former house of culture. Historical Overview According to M. Barkhudariants, the church was built at the end of the 19th century, more precisely in 1894, at the expense of the local population (Barkhudariants 1895, 226, fig. 1). Architectural-Compositional Description The monument is a three-nave basilica built of local polished and rough light brown stones. Arches resting on eight wall columns and four separate pillars divide the chapel into three naves (fig. 2). The columns and arches are made of hewn stones. The baptismal font is built into the western part of the north wall. The dimensions of the monument are 21.75 meters long and 13.1 meters wide. The church is vaulted; the roof is covered with a sheet of tin tiles. Initially, the church had two doors that opened from the north and south sides (Barkhudariants 1895, 226-227). Later the southern door was closed. The church has three windows on the east, one on the west, two on the north and three on the south. The State of the Church before, during and after the War Before the war the church was completely standing. No information is known about the monument during the war or after it. Bibliographic examination The church is relatively new, which is why the sources are scarce. Our description is based on the information provided by Makar Barkhudariants and that which is submitted by Certificate of Preservation of Monuments of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of the Artsakh Republic, Bibliography 1․ Barkhudariants 1895 – Barkhudariants M. Artsakh, Baku, Aror.
Location The historical village of Stunis is located 2 km south of the village of Ghushchi (Tandzut) in the Kashatagh region (Lachin region) of the Artsakh Republic, on the left bank the Stunis, right inflow of the Aghavnaget River, on its south-eastern gorge. Stunis was first mentioned among the tax-paying villages of Tatev Monastery, and in the 19th century the Kurds settled here, calling the village Sadinlar (Karapetian 1999, 139). The village has been uninhabited since the 1990s. The church is located in the upper part of the village, surrounded by ruined houses (fig. 1). Historical Overview There is no historical information about the church. Architectural-Compositional Description The church is a three-nave basilica with cylindrical vaults, which are taken under a two-pitch roof. The prayer hall ends in the east with a semicircular apse with single sacristies next to it from the south and the north. The walls are lined with large and small rough stones and lime mortar. Fragments of tombstones, khachkars and carved stones of different periods are embedded in the walls, both outside and inside. In its plan and spatial volumetric composition, it is similar to the churches of Mirik, Hak and Herik, and is a 17th-century structure like these. Inside the church, on one of the columns near the entrance, there is a damaged Armenian inscription. The church is plastered inside. The only entrance to the church is on the south side (fig. 2). Large rectangular windows open on the western, southern and eastern fronts (fig. 3). This was possibly done in the 19th century or is not excluded during the Soviet years, when the church, like the Armenian churches in other villages, was turned into a warehouse.
Location St. Astvatsatsin Church of Tsaghkavank is located in the center of Tsakuri village of Hadrut region of the Artsakh Republic, at 866 meters above sea level (Fig. 1). Presently, it is under the occupation of Azerbaijan. Historical overview The village where the church is located, Sargis Jalalyants calls Tsakuri. In the half of the 19th century it had 22 houses with Armenian residents and belonged to the Haykaz Mirzabekyants kin. According to Jalalyants, the construction of the church was not completed, in particular, the dome was not built because the master who built it died. Following the elders, Jalalyants presents an interesting episode from the events that took place during the construction of the church. According to the narrative, the architect gets angry with the apprentice and says: “Let you be bitten by a snake”. It happens that one day while working, the apprentice dies from a snake bite and seeing that and repenting, the architect sculpts a snake’s image on the church in remembrance of the perpetual ones and as an admonition to every miscreant apprentice (Jalaliants 1858, 261-262). Till today that snake sculpture is preserved. It is located in the arched opening of the southern window. Makar Barkhudaryants mentions the monastery, noting that “Above the prayer hall it (the church) used to have a dome, but it is destroyed. Perhaps, it used to be a monastery, then they changed it to a church, which is 15 meters 25 centimeters long and 12 meters wide” (Barkhutariants 1895, 72, 73). The building inscription has been preserved on the lintel of the church, according to which the church was built in 1682: “I – Archimandrite Hakob, from Taghlar borough, from the Tankots kin, a disciple of Archimandrite Yesayi from Krtchevan, was appointed by Yeremia – the Patriarch of Aghuank, as the leader of some northern villages. But they did not allow us to live in our native see and wandering in different places, I did not find a more suitable (place) than this. And I wished to live here, and having leveled Indusar (mountain), I turned it into a residence and began the construction of the cathedral church in memory of my soul and my parents – my father Dalvat and my mother Mariam, and for the pardon of nanny-nurses, my two sisters – Sarah, Yashak. I pray for their lives. The holy church was built by the hands of Archimandrite Hakob in the summer of 1131 (1682). However, the khachkar dated to 1196 preserved in the vicinity of the church gives grounds to suppose that the church was built on the site of an older complex (Mkrtchyan 1985, 116). The longitudinal walls of the prayer hall are accentuated by pilasters on both sides of the arcature (Fig. 3). Architectural-compositional examination The church of Tsaghkavank belongs to the two-pilaster composition of the three-nave basilica type churches. Externally the layout is rectangular (15.24 x 12.10 meters) and almost square inwardly (9.3 x 10.3 meters). The pair of pillars (these are connected by arches, with the wall of bema and the opposite wall pillars) divide the interior space of the prayer hall into medium (4.3 meters) and side (2.0 meters) naves. The side naves end in the east with the vestries adjacent to the main altar (Fig. 2). Stairs leading to the roof are built on both sides of the bema. The only entrance to the church is on the western side, on the east-west axis. The almost quadratic symmetry of the hall is conditioned with arched niches of the wide openings in the southern and northern walls. The longitudinal walls of the prayer hall are accentuated by pilasters on both sides of the pillars (Fig. 3). The interior is plastered, the pillars, arches, niches, the stones of the bema facade are lined with bluish hewn stones, and the walls are made of rough stones (Fig. 4).
Location The historic village of Stunis is located 2 km south of Ghushchi village (Tandzut) in Kashatagh region (Lachin region) of the Artsakh Republic, on the left bank of the Stunis right tributary of the Aghavnaget River, on its south-eastern slope of gorge. Stunis was first mentioned among the tax-paying villages of Tatev Monastery, and in the 19th century the Kurds settled here, calling the village Sadinlar (Abrahamyan 1942, 42). The old church of Stunis is located about 800 meters north of the village, on the left bank of another tributary joining the Stunis tributary. It is probably a structure of the 9th-10th centuries (Karapetyan 2001, 135). There is no historical information about the church. Architectural-compositional description The church is a single-nave, vaulted building with a horseshoe-shaped altar, lacks any vestries (Fig. 1). It has two entrances, one from the south and one from the west (Fig. 2). It is built on a single-level wall base with raw and semi-finished stones, the corner parts of the walls are demolished (Figs. 3, 4). The dimensions of the church are 8.40X6.10 meters. The lintel of the southern entrance of the church is a polished, one-piece stone, but it lacks any inscriptions or ornaments (Karapetyan 2001, 135). Straightway above the lintel of the southern entrance, along the entire length of the wall, there are small rectangular holes, which suggests that there once used to be a structure attached to this wall. Above the holes, in the center of the wall, there is the only window of the southern wing of the church. The building has another window on the western wall with a primitive horseshoe-shaped window cornice (Fig. 5). The condition before and after the war The church has not been damaged during the Artsakh wars. After the transfer of Kashatagh region under the Azerbaijani control in December 2020, changes and destruction in the area of the monument have not been documented so far.
Location The church (Figs. 1, 2) is located on a hill on the northern side of Tandzatap village (Gharababa) in Kashatagh region of the Artsakh Republic, 21 km north of Kovsakan (Zangelan), 2 km from the current border of the Republic of Armenia.
Location The church (Figs. 1, 2) is located in Kashatagh region of the Artsakh Republic, 15 km west of Sanasar (Kubatli), in Tchapkut village, on the bank of one of the tributaries feeding the Setants rivulet. Presently, it is under the Azerbaijani occupation.
Location The church is located 2-2,5 km south-west of Tzor village of Hadrut region, on a hill rising on the bank of a gorge, at the foot of Tzoraberd (Figs. 1, 2). The village was depopulated of Armenians as a result of the “Ring” operation in 1991, it was liberated in the summer of 1993. The village has been under Azerbaijani occupation since October 2020.
Location The church is located in Harar village of Kashatagh region (Lachin region) of the Artsakh Republic, which together with Khachgetik and Aghavnatun villages is part of Aghavnatun rural community. Harar village is located on the left bank of the Hakari River, at an altitude of 1180-1280 meters (Karapetyan 2001, 172). Historical overview We have written evidence of Harar village since the 17th century. The village is mentioned in the colophons of the manuscripts created locally, where St. Stepanos Church of the village is mentioned as the place of creation of the manuscripts. The next mention of Harar dates back to the 19th century. Accordingly, the majority of the village population was Armenian. The village suffered significantly during the 1905 Armenian-Tatar clashes and especially in 1918. By the 1930s, the village had been depopulated of Armenians and Turkish-speaking Kurds and Azeris had settled on the site (Karapetyan 2001, 172-173). Architectural-compositional description St. Stepanos Church of the village is located at the eastern end of the village, on a steep hillside, it is half-ruined (Fig. 1).
Location The church is located in Herik village of Kashatagh region (Lachin region) of the Artsakh Republic. In the Middle Ages, the village was mentioned as Hayri, Heri, Herik and it was one of the tax-paying villages of Tatev Monastery (Hakobyan 2009, 23-24). In Soviet years it was called Ahmadlu. The village is located on the right bank of the Aghavnaget River, in its upper stream (Karapetyan 2001, 132). Architectural-compositional description The church is located in the center of the village (Fig. 1), it is a single-nave, vaulted church externally with a gable roof which is supported by an arch composed of a pair of pilasters (Fig. 2, 3). It is built of raw stone and lime mortar. The only entrance is from the south, it lacks any vestries (Fig. 4). The baptismal font is inbuilt in the northern wall. The walls of the building are fastened with old gravestones, the entrance lintel is also an old gravestone, and on the right side of the entrance there is an embedded khachkar made of yellow limestone (Fig. 5). The inscription and crosses engraved on the cornice and corbels of the latter were deliberately scratched in the late 1980s. At present, only one line of the inscription on the corbels can be read, which presents the date of the creation of the khachkar: “In the year of 1517”, and in the 1960s it was also possible to read “God have mercy․․․ /” (CAI 1982, 195). The condition before and after the war The Kurds who had settled in the village and later Turkified used the church as a barn, also added a new entrance. During the Soviet years, the church was not subjected to intentional destruction or artificial modifications, only the crosses and inscriptions on the khachkar next to the entrance lintel were scratched. The church was not damaged during the Artsakh wars either. After the transfer of Kashatagh region under Azerbaijani control in December 2020, changes and destruction in the site of the monument have not been documented so far.
Location Katosavank Monastery is located in Kashatagh region of the Artsakh Republic (now under the control of Azerbaijan), 1 km north of the namesake settlement, on the bank of the Hochants tributary of the Hakari River (Fig. 1). Remains of a basilica church and outbuildings, a cemetery, and remnants of medieval settlements a little east and west have been preserved here. Historical overview There are no known historical data about Katosavank. The probable date of the structure, considering the architectural-compositional solutions and the date of the khachkars scattered in the area, can be considered as the 9th-11th centuries. Architectural-compositional examination The church is built of local rough basalt and lime mortar. Polished stones were used in the segments of building’s entrance, window sills, pilasters and the corners of walls (Fig. 2). The structure is a single-nave basilica with an inwardly accentuated altar on the eastern side with external dimensions of 16.70 x 6.90 meters (Karapetyan 2001, 154, Fig. 3). The thickness of the walls is from 1 to 1.1 meters. In the eastern part, large-sized vestries are attached to the northern and southern sides whose entrances are from outside and do not communicate with the prayer hall. The semi-cylindrical vault (it is completely absent) used to rest on arches rising on a pair of pilasters attached to the northern and southern walls. The church used to have three entrances: from the north, west and south (the latter is well preserved, Fig. 4). It has a preserved window on the southern wall. The vestries of the structure are relatively poorly preserved. The latter also used to have inwardly accentuated altars. The row of horizontal niches on the southern wall of the church suggests that the building had an adjacent hall with a wooden roof from the south (Fig. 5). A contemporary cemetery was spread around the building, from which several khachkars and gravestones of earlier and later periods have been preserved (Fig. 6). The condition before, during and after the war After the cessation of the operation of Katosavank, it mainly suffered during the years under Soviet Azerbaijan. In this period, some of the khachkars of the medieval cemetery were damaged and destroyed, including the inscribed khachkar of Father Grigor (Karapetyan 2001, 154, Fig. 7). Bibliographic examination Researcher S. Karapetyan in his book entitled “Armenian cultural monuments in the region of Karabakh”, also refers to Katosavank Monastery and identifies Katos with Getuz village of the Hakari land mentioned in the manuscript of the Gospel dated 1567 (Karapetyan 2001, 152).
Location Saint Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist) or Kanach Zham Church is located in Shushi city, in the western perched segment of the plateau, from where the whole panorama of the city is visible. It is observed from almost all residential districts of the city and is the dimensional dominant of this part (Fig. 1). Historical overview The historical St. Hovhannes Mkrtich Church of Shushi, located in the Upper or New district, was originally built by the commoners who had moved to Shushi from the villages of Artsakh, that is why it was called the Gharabaghtsots Church (Church of Karabakh residents). The original structure was made of wood (cf. Taghiadian 1847, 286), the present church and the belfry were built in 1847 as a holistic complex. At the top of the entrance of the belfry, on the right and left, the building inscription has been preserved on two polished slabs numbered 1 and 2: “Saint Hovhannes Mkrtich Church was built by Shushi townsman paron (master) Hovhannes and Baba Stepanyan Hovnanents in memory of their deceased brother Mkrtich, in the year of 1847” (Figs. 2, 3). The church received its name “Kanach Zham” (“Green Church”) as the dome of the building was once of green colour (Mkrtchyan 1985, 226). Architectural-compositional examination St. Hovhannes Mkrtich Church has elongated symmetries and a cruciform plan with an outwardly accentuated circular altar on the eastern side (Fig. 4). The southern and northern cross-wings are directly attached to the altar, which conditioned the two-part division of the prayer hall into a rectangular hall in front of the altar and an almost square hall between the belfry and the second hall. As a peculiarity, it should be noted that the belfry presents a constructive unit with the church. The portal of the church opens from the west into the belfry, from where you can enter a spacious prayer hall. The floor of the belfry and the prayer hall of the church are two meters above the level of the courtyard, due to which ten steps leading to the entrance are enclosed by wide retaining walls, which emphasize the solemnity of the portal leading to the prayer hall (Fig. 5). The prayer hall of the church is divided into two halls by pilasters (Fig. 6). The first hall has an approximately square plan, which is covered with a specially enclosed vault characteristic for the main halls (glkhatun) with garret windows, while the second – a rectangular hall, is domed. The drum with a circular base rises on the arches supported by hand-hewn pilasters. The transition from the square under dome to the dome is performed with a unique pendentive solution. The eastern vestries are built not on both sides of the altar, as is often the case, but under the altar. It should be noted that in case of the vaulted hall type church of Gtchavank, too, the vestries are also under the stage and have entry from the prayer hall. St. Hovhannes Mkrtich Church is built of polished and rough milky limestone with carefully lined masonry. The most responsible parts are lined with polished stones: the corners of the walls, the cornices, the arches of the windows and the portal, the domes of the belfry and the church, the main staircases. The church has a luminous interior, which is provided by three wide windows of the altar as well as eight windows opened in the walls of the church and the belfry (Fig. 5). The volume of the church is harmonized with the surrounding verdurous environment and plays an important organizing role in terms of urban development. Bibliographic examination In the Soviet period, St. Hovhannes Mkrtich is represented mainly by Armenian authors (Harutyunyan 1992, Mkrtchyan 1985, 226-228, Саркисян 1996, Мкртчян, Давтян 1997). Azerbaijani researchers have focused only on the construction of the city’s residential segment and Muslim monuments, ignoring the Armenian ones (Авалов 1977, Фатуллаев 1970)․ The condition before, during and after the war During the Soviet period, Kanach Zham Church was surrounded by sanatoriums, rest houses and residential buildings, and the church was used by the Azerbaijanis as a drinking gallery of mineral water. There was a big iron pool installed on the stage, which completely closed, cut off the stage from the hall. Mineral water that often spilled from the reservoir flooded the prayer hall, wrecking the wall and flowing into the courtyard. The stairs of western that is the main portal of the belfry were demolished and replaced by new stairs inappropriate for the monument on the northern facade, because of which the wall of the ledge of the central window was demolished (Fig. 7). As a result, the monument was severely damaged. After the liberation of Shushi, during the renovation of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich Church in 1995, the church domes and the portal were restored, the interior was completed. Immediately after the 2020 war, Kanach Zham Church was exploded. The dome and the belfry are damaged (Fig. 8). Today, the Azerbaijanis unfoundedly denying the Armenian affiliation of the church and “refusing” the previous renovations, have begun to “transform” the structure into a Russian church.
Location Markhatun Church (Fig. 1) is located 1.5-2 km northeast of Mets Tagher village in Hadrut region, in a forested glade expanding at the foots between Lusavorich and Markhatun Mountains. As a result of the war unleashed in 2020, Mets Tagher village is under Azerbaijani occupation. Historical overview No historical evidence of the construction of the church has been preserved. The name Markhatun is etymologized as Mother Khatun, that is Mother Mistress and is probably one of the local names of the Mother of God (Abrahamyan 2009, 33). Architectural-compositional examination It is a single-nave hall with a rectangular plan and a semicircular altar (Fig. 2, dimensions: 8.8 meters long, 5 meters wide, 5.5 meters high), built of local raw stone and lime mortar. It is vaulted inwardly and externally has a gable roof. The vault rests upon a holder created with arches which are attached to the walls. The entrance is from the west, the polished stones of the pillars are destroyed (Fig. 3). Both windows open on the eastern and western sides (Figs. 4, 5). The arch of the altar facing the hall used to be lined with hewn slabs, a small part of which has been preserved (Fig. 6). According to the epigraph, the church was built in 1603 (Barkhutaryants 1895, 57). Two of the khachkars of the church have been preserved, one of which (dimensions: 0.64×0.34 meters) is located inside the church (Fig. 7), the other (Fig. 8) has been moved and placed in Amenaprkich (All-Savior) Church located in the center of Mets Tagher village. In the vicinity of the church, mainly in the eastern and northeastern part, the old cemetery with numerous gravestones has been preserved. The condition before, during and after the war The church was in a deplorable condition. It was not injured during the military operations of the Second Artsakh War, there is no information about the post-war condition.
Location It is located in Hadrut region of the Artsakh Republic, on the top of Toghasar mountain, at the back of Togh village, in the territory of Ktish fortress (Fig. 1). As a result of the 2020 war, Hadrut region is occupied by Azerbaijan. Historical overview Historians Movses Kaghankatvatsi and Tovma Artsruni provide information about Ktish Fortress. They are related with the anti-Arab struggle organized in southern Artsakh in the 9th century, led by the prince of Dizak Yesayi Abu Muse. In 853, the Arab army led by General Bugha besieged Ktish Fortress, where the population of the province was fortified: “․․․ almost nowhere, in the four corners of the world had any king seen such an army with a terrible appearance and armament, with a severe thunder and explosion, with the glitter of its weapons and which at that time the Arab army was armed, adorned and dressed․․․ And when the whole crowd of troops, more than 200.000, gathered in the same place, formed battlefields, shouted at each other to attack the enemy. And behold, Apumuse, who was known as the son of an elder, went to war against them, entered into a contest with them. They became like a big mound of iron or a diamond rock and mingling around, they clung to each other like one man. ․․․The enemy suffered great blows, as the straw is blown from the wind or the smoke from the storm․․․” (Artsruni 1978, 196). This struggle lasted for about a year and in 28 battles Abu Muse won over Bugha. The story of the construction of Tezh Church (Figs. 2, 3) also connects the legend with these events. Enraged by the defeats suffered by the Armenian troops, Bugha orders the destruction of the sanctuaries of Gtchavank at the foot of the fortress. At that time, Prince Yesayi orders his masons to build a new church on the top of the mount, towards Gtchavank, before the eyes of the enemy, within seven days, and since the construction of the sanctuary took place during the hot moments of the battle, it was called Tezh (in Arm.: “hot”) (Mkrtchyan 1985, 91). Architectural-compositional examination The church is a rectangular single-nave hall with a semicircular altar and twin window niches. It is 7.50 meters long, 4.50 meters wide, 3 meters high. It used to be vaulted and with a gable roof. It is built of untooled stone and lime mortar. It has two entrances, which open from the west (Figs. 4, 5) and south (Figs. 6), a small window on the western side (Fig. 7). Inside the church there were five small inscribed khachkars made of white slate with the following inscriptions: “This cross to Nazaz”, “This cross to Mrhapet”, “This cross to Shahum”, “This cross to Ghazar”, “This cross to Yeghia” (Barkhutaryants 1895, 55) which were probably left under the stones after the collapse of the church vault. M․ Barkhudaryan mentions that on the lintel of the southern entrance there is a relief of Holy Mother of God with a Child as well as “an image of a begging cowled archimandrite”, and on the lintel of the western entrance there are “images of two praying monks and a cross” (Barkhutaryants, 1895, 56), but the abovementioned ones are not in situ due to the collapse. Tombstones have been preserved to the east of the church, on one of which M. Barkhudaryan read: “In the year of 1257. This is the grave of archimandrite Movses” (Barkhutaryants 1895, 56). A two-headed eagle and a paw holding it used to be depicted on the gravestone. Summing up these data, it can be considered probable that the original structure of the church was not preserved, the present hall was built on the site in the 13th century, which also underwent changes in the 17th-18th centuries (frames of entrances, eastern window frame, crosses belong to the same period). The condition before, during and after the war The walls of the church have been preserved, the vault (Fig. 8) and the central part of the eastern wall (Fig. 9) have completely collapsed. The church was not damaged during the hostilities of the Second Artsakh War, there is no information about the post-war condition.
Location The church is located in Mirik village of Kashatagh region (Lachin region) of the Artsakh Republic. The village is located near the Mirik River, which adjoins the Aghavnaget River from the right side, at an altitude of 1440-1520 meters above sea level (Karapetyan 2001, 131). Historical overview The historical data about the village is rather scarce. The village was usually referred to as Merik, and in Soviet times it was referred to as Mirik (Karapetyan 2001, 131). Architectural-compositional description St. Astvatsatsin Church is located on the northern edge of the village, on the rock mass that dominates the village with its position (Fig. 1). According to the building inscription, it was built in 1682. By its plan, it is a three-nave basilica (Fig. 2). The walls of the church are lined with rough stone, and the cruciform columns and cornerstones are polished. There are gravestones dated different periods, fragments of khachkars as well as carved stones embedded in the walls (Figs. 3-9). They are both holistic and fragmented. The only entrance to the church is on the southern side, it is quite luxurious (Fig. 10). The building inscription of the church is on the entrance lintel (Fig. 11), it is slightly damaged: “I – paron (mister) Hakhnazar, built this St. Astvatsatsin Church in the memory of me and my parents: remember my father paron Sargis and my brother Haykaz in Christ. I – elder Najargul, gave 5 tumans to the church superintendent in the memory of me and my parents. We – the people of Mirik, gave 5 tumans to the holy church in the memory of us and our parents. In the year of 1130 (1682)” (Karapetyan 2001, 131).
Location The church is located in Hakaku village of Hadrut region of the Artsakh Republic. During the Soviet era, the village was part of Hadrut region of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region. As a result of the 2020 war, Hakaku village, as well as the entire Hadrut region, are occupied by Azerbaijan. Architectural-compositional description St. Astvatsatsin Church is located in the center of the village (Fig. 1). It is a three-nave basilica with a volumetric-spatial composition, with a rectangular plan of 13.40X9.60 meters (Fig. 2). It ends in the east with a semicircular altar and rectangular vestries adjacent to it. The hall under the vaulted and gable roof is divided into naves by means of a pair of arches, which rest on two free and two pairs of pillars adjacent to the wall (Figs. 3, 4). The walls are lined with small and rough stones and lime mortar, the arches, door and window openings are made of hewn stones (Fig. 5). The only entrance to the church is in the south (Fig. 6). According to the building inscription, the church was built in 1621 (Mkrtchyan 1985, 119-120). The condition before and after the war The church was not damaged during the Artsakh wars. There is no information about the fate of the church after the occupation of Hadrut region.
Location Zorakhach Church is located in Kashatagh region of the Artsakh Republic (now under the control of Azerbaijan), 52 kilometers north of Berdzor, on the left bank of the Shalva tributary of the Hakari River, in the territory of Arakhish rural settlement (Fig. 1). Traces of a church, a medieval village and a cemetery have been preserved here. There is no bibliographic information about the monument. Judging by the architectural solutions of the church and the gravestones embedded in the walls (Fig. 2), the church is a structure of the 17th-18th centuries.
Location The church is located in Mets Tagher village of Hadrut region of the Artsakh Republic. During the Soviet era, the village was part of Hadrut region of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region. As a result of the 2020 war, Mets Tagher village, as well as the entire Hadrut region, are occupied by Azerbaijan. The village is located on the left bank of the Ishkhanaget tributary of the Araks River, surrounded by forested mountains and gorges. The village is 1200 meters above sea level. Historical overview According to Shahen Mkrtchyan, in ancient times the village was called Kazh, as the village was founded by Daniel Kazhetsi. The village was mentioned by a number of names: Tagher, Nor Taghlar, Mets Taghlar. The name of the village is related to its consisting of several districts (Mkrtchyan, 1985, 102). Famous actor Vagharsh Vagharshyan, Marshal of the Soviet Union Aviation Armenak Khanperiants and others originate from Mets Tagher village. In addition to agriculture, handicrafts were developed in the village. In the 19th century, the village was actively engaged in the production of silk thread. Architectural-compositional description St. Amenaprkich (Holy All-Savior) Church is located in the center of the village (Fig. 1). It is a large single-nave basilica (Fig. 2), built in 1846. The vault and the vaulted arches, the tholobate, are accentuated sagittal, which gives a special vertical stretch to the prayer hall. The arches adjacent to the wall, the portal, the window niches and the baptismal font have a regular semicircular end. The church stands out also for its large prayer hall, which is covered with a 13-meter-wide single-span vault (Fig. 3). The main volume of the church is built of rough stones, and the portal, windows and vaulted arches are lined with polished stone. The only entrance is from the north, which was conditioned with the location of the church and the dense construction of the surroundings. Here, the building inscription is on the lintel (Fig. 4). The old khachkars placed in the walls of the church, various sculptural fragments, enable to suggest that stones and khachkars of another older building were used in the construction of the church or that the ancient church that had existed since ancient times was rebuilt (Figs. 5, 6, 7). Adjacent to the northern wall of the church there are garvestones (Figs. 8, 9, 10) and a magnificent chapiter (Mkrtchyan 1985, 104). The condition before and after the war The church was not damaged during the Artsakh wars, in 2012-2013 it was partially renovated and improved. According to a video posted on the Internet by Azerbaijani users in 2021, the entrance doors of the church were broken, the interior of the church was polluted, they tried to scratch and damage the inscription on the entrance lintel. The gravestones adjacent to the northern wall are damaged (Video made by the Azerbaijani military, where the entrance of the church, the damaged inscription on the lintel, the area adjacent to the entrance are seen, the video is taken from the following telegram channel (Azerbaijani source is unknown): https://t.me/ararathau/7365?single&fbclid=IwAR13yiYT8xv0mvqAguzz TjrJJSdhbE35JL3KfRczxTlpSpFqp3uCihSXk70).
Location Vakunis village is located in Kashatagh region of the Artsakh Republic, 46 km north of Berdzor, on the bank of the Shalva tributary of the Hakari River. The 17th century church is located in the central part of the village (Figs․ 1, 2).
Location The church of Arakhish is located in Kashatagh region of the Artsakh Republic (now under Azerbaijani control), 50 kilometers north of Berdzor, on the left bank of the Shalva tributary of the Hakari River, 1,5 kilometers south of the namesake village (Fig. 1). Traces of a medieval rural settlement, a church and a large cemetery to the south and west of it have been preserved here. There are no bibliographic data about the monument. Judging by the architectural peculiarities of the church, the early khachkars, the gravestones of the 12th-16th centuries (some of them are inscribed and dated), the settlement existed throughout the Middle Ages. Architectural-compositional examination The church (Fig. 2) is built of local raw stones, lime mortar, it is plastered inwardly. It is a single-nave vaulted hall with an accented horseshoe-shaped apse (Fig. 3).
Location Handaberd Monastery is located in Verin Khachen region of Artsakh (New Shahumyan region of Artsakh Republic, presently under the Azerbaijani occupation), on the high edge of the wooded slope of the mountain range in the southeastern bank of the Levonaget River. The monastery is located not far from Handaberd – the biggest and strongest fortress of the region. The fortress lacks any religious buildings and it is probable that the monastery served the religious needs of the inhabitants of the fortress. Operation According to one of the inscriptions, the main part of the buildings was built by Archimandrite David in 1276 around the older church on the site (Fig. 1). In the second half of the 13th century, during the Mongol dominion the foundation of a monastic complex was often laid by the clergymen themselves using their finance and even physical efforts. Thence, the architectural solutions and decorations are comparatively modest. These simple and plain buildings are on the one hand witnesses of the political, economic, cultural comedown and on the other hand a peculiar source to find out how the culture of the period voiced and tried to adapt to new hard conditions keeping the main elements of national identity. The main period of the operation of Handaberd Monastery goes back to the second half of the 13th century and to the 14th century. It was the period of the cruel Mongol dominion. The Mongol hordes not only invaded, plundered ruined the country and massacred the people but also made the armed forces of the conquered countries take part in their future invasions. The only intention of the period under these circumstances became struggle and survival, the only form of welfare was military service in the Mongol army. To fight for motherland’s sake in the Mongol army and to die in far-off countries – this was the fate of brave representatives of almost all noble families of Eastern Armenia. The cavalry was the main force of the period, the guarantee of the stability of the patrimonial possession and the existence of the Church. As it appeared after thorough investigations of the written sources, the Dopyan kin of Verin Khachen where Handaberd Monastery is located was one of the most famous followers of this way of life. Under these circumstances the main task of culture was to adapt to the changing conditions but keep Armenian identity, a mission which is best observed in Handaberd Monastery. Architecture The territory of the monastery was prepared beforehand; terraces were built from the south-east to the north-west on which buildings were erected. At present, the monastic complex consists of two groups of buildings (Fig. 2), the main one of which presents a cathedral with gavit, two chapels, a belfry in its west and a graveyard (Fig. 3).