The monastery of the Holy Apostle Yeghishe

Church of Yeghishe Arakyal (Yeghishe the Apostle). Monastery of Yeghishe Arakyal is located at the foot of the mountain Mrav.

The Republic of Artsakh is a small country, but due to the richness of exciting and picturesque places, it can astonish and charm even the most sophisticated travelers.

The monastery of the Holy Apostle Yeghishe (Yelishe, Yelisey), situated in the Martakert province of Artsakh, in the north-west of the village of Mataghis is one of the ancient Christian monastery complexes.

The monastery is placed on the incline of one of the spurs of the majestic Mravsky ridge. The trail leading to the monastery passes through a virgin forest and rocks. Not far away from the monastery, a small Jrvshtik waterfall overtakes, in whose praise the monastery was initially named. The monastery was built on top of a cliff, on one side cliffing steeply into a canyon, and on three sides surrounded by defensive walls. It is quite challenging to get here.

Even in the pre-Christian era, there was an ancient sanctuary known as Nersmira. After the acceptance of Christianity, based on the testimony of an Armenian historian of the 7th century Movses Kagankatvatsi, in the 5th century, the ruler of Artsakh Vachagan the Pious transferred and buried the relics of St. Yegishe (Yelisey), and built a chapel and a tomb.

Throughout the XIII-XVIII centuries, the monastery complex was periodically completed. In 1244, the church of St. Apostle Yegishe (Yelisey) was built. In 1286, a church was built on the grave of Vachagan the Pious. Seven chapels were erected here - arched two-tier structures, with altars of various configurations. Besides churches and chapels, there are also constructions of cells, a refectory, and a two-story residential building of the abbot of the monastery.

In 1716 the walls of the monastery were strengthened, and arched gates were built. In the Middle Ages the temple was a major educational and spiritual center of Artsakh. Various manuscripts and secular documents were created and stored here. In the XVIII century, the monastery was the center of the national liberation struggle for independence.

Folk traditions connect the names of King Vachagan and Queen Anahit with a source on the western side of the monastery is Jrvshtik, and the tombstone with the image of a cross considered the grave of Anahit.

Although today the complex does not shine with its former power, and much here needs to be restored, the charm and unique spirit of the holy place are always present…


Photo: Arevik Tsatryan