Surb Hambardzum Church of Berdzor


Surb Hambardzum Church is located on the rocky slope of the Hakari River's left bank, 150 meters above the river and 960 meters above sea level, on Berdzor's southwestern outskirts, near the M-12 highway (Figs. 1, 2).

Fig. 1 The general view of the Surb Hambardzum Church, photo by Z. Rkoyan.

Fig. 2 The general view of the Surb Hambardzum Church, photo by Z. Rkoyan.

Historical overview

Aleksan Hakobyan, the first head of the Kashatagh district administration, initiated the establishment of the Surb Hambardzum Church in Berdzor. Construction was completed in 1998, and the dome cross was consecrated on May 31, 1998. Hrachya Gasparyan is the church's architect. Georgi Arakelyan oversaw the construction. The church's artistic decoration was created by sculptor Artashes Hovsepyan, painter Karo Mkrtchyan, woodworker Vano Dadoyan, and others. Priest Athanas has served as the region's spiritual pastor since the church's founding, and Ter Beniamin Tsaturyan has served as the region's spiritual pastor since 2019.

Fig. 3 The lintel of the church, sculptor: Artashes Hovsepyan, photo by Z. Rkoyan.

Fig. 4 The sculpture of an eagle breaking the yataghan on the church's eastern wall, by Artashes Hovsepyan, photo by Z. Rkoyan.

Architectural-compositional examination

The church is a cross-shaped, central-domed structure with sacristies on both sides of the tabernacle. The dome has 12 facet drums and completes with a fan-shaped spire. On the roof of the western facade, there is a small bell tower. The interior of the church is decorated with mural art, and the exterior is decorated with bas-reliefs. The image of the Virgin Mary with the child at the entrance and the eagle breaking the yataghan of the structure's eastern facade is particularly significant. This sculptural composition is authored by G. Artashes Hovsepyan and displays an inscription quote “Let us be buried, but not surrender" by G. Narekatsi (Figs. 3, 4).

He also created three of the rosettes on the dome drum's 12 facets, as well as other sculptures. The four donation khachkars and the sundial on the southern wall are part of the structure's exterior decoration. The 6-line inscription is carved on the western side of the church's northern wall. "The newly settled Kashatagh people built the Surb Hambardzum Church hoping in God (in memory of thousands of our martyred brothers). Surb Hambardzum Church was established in the Berdzor settlement in 1996 and consecrated by the will of the Holy Spirit (during the reign of Ter Garegin, Catholicos of all Armenians) with the presence of Ter Pargev bishop of Artsakh and Ter Atanas priest of the province in the year of 1998. All praise to our gracious Lord Jesus Christ. Amen". A second large inscription, carved on the eastern upper part of the south wall, lists the names of thirty-two builders, ranging from architects to laborers.

Hovhannes Mkrtchyan, a sculptor, is also one of the authors of the church ornaments. Karo Mkrtchyan painted the Holy Table's first icon of Mary. Vano Dodoyan, a master woodworker, designed the entrance and storage room doors. Other artists also contributed to the church's artistic decoration.

Two khachkars by the sculptor H. Mkrtchyan are intact in the churchyard. The khachkar dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide (Fig. 5) was on the south side, and the khachkar dedicated to the memory of the Spitak earthquake martyrs was on the north side (Fig. 6). A small khachkar with a spring could be found on the eastern side.

The Armenian community of Lebanon donated the two bells for Berdzor's Surb Hambardzum Church.

Fig. 5 A Khachkar dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, photo by A. Grigoryan.

Fig. 6 A Khachkar dedicated to the memory of the Spitak earthquake martyrs and victims, photo by A. Grigoryan

The condition before, during, and after the war

The church was in good condition up until August 25, 2022. The church's fate is unknown after it surrendered to the enemy. On August 25, 2022, 47 cultural monuments, including khachkars, memorial stones, busts, and memorial springs, were evacuated from Berdzor ( d5%a2%d5%a5%d6%80%d5%b1%d5%b8%d6%80%d5%b8%d6%82%d5%b4-%d5%a1%d5%b2%d5%a1%d5% be%d5%b6%d5% b8%d5%b5%d5%b8%d6%82%d5%b4-%d6%87-%d5%b6%d5%a5%d6%80%d6%84%d5%ab%d5%b6-%d5%bd%d5%b8%d6%82%d5%bd%d5%b8%d6%82/). Separate elements of Berdzor's Surb Hambardzum Church were partially evacuated.



  1. Karapetyan, Monuments of Armenian Culture in the Regions Annexed to Soviet Azerbaijan, Yerevan, 1999, p. 177.
  2. "Yerkrapah" weekly newspaper, January 4–10, 1998, page 4.
Surb Hambardzum Church of Berdzor
Surb Hambardzum Church of Berdzor
Surb Hambardzum Church of Berdzor