armenia31 akhtala monastery

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1. 2. Akhtalais a 10th-century fortifiedGeorgian Orthodox Churchmonastery located in the town ofAkhtalain themarzofLori, 185 kilometers (115mi) north ofYerevan.The fortress played a major role in protecting the north-western regions of Armenia (Gugark) and is amongthemostwellpreservedofallinmodernArmenia. Themainchurchatthecompoundisfamousforitshighly artisticfrescoes,whichcovertheinsidewalls,thepartitions, and the bearings of the building.The original Armenian name of the settlement where the monastery is built is Pghindzahank,whichmeanscoppermine 3. Weddingringsstatue.PaterVigensaid,ifcouplesgothroughtheywillleave all the bad things (the snake and scorpion) behind and are facing a good 4. Accordingtosome locallore,thechurch wasbuiltinthe7th centurybyByzantine emperorofArmenian extraction,Heraclius. 5. Anotherlegend assumesthatthe churchwasbuiltin the5thcenturyby GeorgianKing VakhtangI Gorgasali. 6. Thereisno reasonable evidenceto supporteither story.Modern researchersdate themuralswithin thechurchto 12051216 7. Fromthelate18th centurytothe presentthe monasteryhas servedethnicGreeks whosettledin Akhtalatoworkinthe nearbygoldand silvermines 8. Akhtalaremains oneofArmenia's bestintact examplesofits greatfrescoperiod 9. SeveralmonasteriesinnorthernArmeniawereconvertedtoChalcedonian orGreek(Byzantine)Orthodoxy,aprominentexamplebeingAkhtala. 10. About 800 Greek families were moved from Gmhane in the Ottoman Empire to Akhtala in 1763 by the Georgian King Herekleh II. 11. The Greeks called the monastery "Meramani" and Greek miners have left inscriptions on the monastery walls. In the 19th century Akhtala was taken over by the Armenian princely family of Melikovs. 12. Compared to all other Armenian monasteries it distinguishes from its precious and unique frescos which are very well preserved and in original condition 13. Pghndzavank was the religious center for Chalcedonian Armenians as well as an Armenian- Georgian center for learning 14. The majority of the murals bare scriptures in Greek 15. The murals are one of the best representations of Byzantine art outside the traditional borders of Byzantium 16. The murals were painted under the patronage of atabek Ivane Zakarian between 1205 and 1216 17. The coloring of the murals is characteristic of typical Byzantine art while the thematic solutions are more Armenian 18. Some of the murals were renovated in 1979 19. The Akhtala fortress with its temple complex is situated in Akhtala village of Tumanyan region in a high valley. 20. The fortress territory is surrounded with rocky deep canyons from three sides, and the north side joins the plain 21. Pghndzahank became the property of Ivaneh Zakarian in the 1180s. While Ivaneh's brother Zakareh remained faithful to the Armenian Apostolic Church, Ivaneh had accepted the Byzantine (or Chalcedonian) Orthodoxy in the Georgian Court (which had adopted it in the 7th century). 22. The prominent Armenian filmmaker of the 20th century Sergei Parajanov filmed two episodes of his film The Color of Pomegranates at the monastery 23. Besides the natural advantages, the fortress was protected by tall pyramid gates mutually connected with the picturesque environs which are preserved to this day 24. Sound: Lusine Zakaryan -Vocalise by Arno Babajanyan Text & pictures: Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foioreanu