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Built on the slope of a deep ravine on the river Arpha, and opening from its height the indescribable scenic landscapes, the monastery constructed of red brick is a true masterpiece of architecture.
Its location is in the area of Vayots Dzor, 122 kilometers far from Yerevan, and it is also sometimes called Amaghu Noravank named as the nearby village, to distinguish it from Bgheno-Noravank, located near Goris.
Even in the early Middle Ages, the place was considered as a sanctuary. That times, on the territory of today’s monastery was the shrine of St. Phokas, where inside was the source of spring water, since ancient times considered as a place of worship. In the ninth centenary, there was built the temple of Surb Karapet, and in those days the monastery was called Avag, which means the main, and only in 1221 was named the Noravank, i.e. New Monastery. It was the center of writing, and in the 144th century, had become the spiritual center of exceptional importance. For some period in the Noravank kept part of the Holy Cross of Christ, painted with his blood. This great gift was presented by some mysterious stranger.
Here in 1273 was buried prince Smbat, over the grave of which was soon erected the church cemetery of St. Gregor, under the guide of architect Siranes.
The monastery was badly damaged by earthquake in 1840 and therefore was neglected, but in the 50s of the last century has been partly restored, and in 1982 excavations and serious work on the reconstruction were begun. Dome and roof of the temple of Surb Stephanos Nakhavka have been fully restored, and the coverings of other buildings.
The works have been accomplished and the convent was recovered and opened by 1998.
Church Astvatsatsin is a two-storey building in three levels with its magnificent dome stands in splendid isolation in the eastern part of the complex. The lower level was intended as a cemetery for the noble family Orbelian. And access to the second floor is opened by a narrow stone staircase from the outside of the building.
In the ancient Armenian architecture and art can be noticed with originality and high artistic level of performance of reliefs of biblical and evangelical motives.
On the tympanum of the entrance reproduced Heavenly Mother with the child, from the left the head of John the Baptist with a halo, to the right – the preacher Isaiah, with an appropriate inscription. This image of the prophecy of salvation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a unique instance in the Armenian art.
In 1983, during the excavations it was found and returned to the place the coat of arms of the princely family Orbelian – eagle grip with claws the deer. And in the chapel of St. Gregory is appears the carved tombstone of 1300, with the image semi-human and half-lion, currently placed over the grave of Prince Smbat Orbelian.
The glory of Noravank is intertwined with the name of great architect and master Momik, who lived in the thirteenth – fourteenth centuries. His works has been fruitful not only in Syunik region, but in the whole Armenian kingdom. He was the author of the most ambitious khachkars – stone crosses, among which the most valuable ones, in the territory of Noravank with images of Christ and his 12 apostles.