Turning off the highway at 12 km to the northeast, it is worth visiting the monastery of Amaras- a man-made miracle.
In the Martuni province of Artsakh, there is a spot that can fascinate a traveler with its stunning location and astonishingly calming aura. It is the monastery of Amaras.
Amaras was founded by St. Gregory the Illuminator at the start of the 4th century and is one of the ancient Armenian monasteries. Even though it was repeatedly overrun and was demolished in the XIV century, it was rebuilt in the XVII century, and it became the center of the bishopric.
The monastery played a crucial role in the religious history of Armenia. In 334, the body of the martyr Grigoris, grandson of Gregory the Illuminator, was buried here. At the end of the V century, Vachagan III (the Pious) discovered the already forgotten grave of Grigoris, in which glass vessels with the relics of St. Zechariah and St. Pantaleon. Vachagan III later on ordered to build a chapel and a church on the site of the grave (in 489). This chapel has persevered to this day. Nevertheless, as a result of various restorations, the location of the church and grave changed - at the end of the 5th century. Grigoris’s tomb was near the church; later, the church was already built at the chapel-mausoleum. Now, visiting the monastery, you can go down to the tomb itself, which is a semi-underground construction designated under the altar of the church.
It is hard to overestimate the exceptional role of Amaras in the history of Armenian culture. It was here that the first monastery school of Artsakh was founded by St. Mesrop Mashtots, the creator of the Armenian alphabet. The activity of the monastery contributed to the spread of the Christian faith in Artsakh Utica.
In the second half of the 19th century, after the accession of Eastern Armenia to Russia, the Amaras monastery complex, which is a powerful defensive construction, was used as a border fortress, in 1832-1847 customs point was located here on the Russian-Persian border.
Amaras is the most symbolic monument of the Artsakh architecture of the late middle ages. The church has two sets of columns and a three-nave basilica. The integrated architectural ensemble includes fences of the 17th century, the central entrance from the south side, and walls constructed around the entire perimeter. Residential and utility rooms are located around large and small courtyards. Round-shaped pillars are placed in the four corners of the fence of the monastery. The walls and adjoining residential and utility buildings are constructed of coarsely hewn basalt and attached with mortar. Among these buildings, the two-story house of the abbot monastery stands out for its size and design. Amaras household and communal buildings are impressive. A barn and a stable are facing the eastern wall of the complex from the north and south. These are joined buildings with side arches and have entrances from the outside and the courtyard.
Currently, restoration work is underway on the territory of the monastery complex.