17.05.2013 17:40

Location. The monument stands at the edge of a terrace predominating over a ravine lying on the left side of the river Debed, 1.5 km south-east of Odzun Village, Lori Region, Republic of Armenia (Tashir District of Gugark Province, Armenia Maior), at an altitude of 1,132 metres above sea level (N 41°02´06.60´´; E 044°37´38.16´´).

The monastic complex consists of two churches, a cemetery and a narthex which is also a funerary structure.

Southern Church. According to a four-line construction inscription engraved on the double semi-circular arch edging the northern entrance of this monument, it was erected by Prior Samuel in 1206.

This church represents a uni-nave vaulted hall with a gable roof and an entrance opening from the north, through which it communicates with the narthex. Light is let in through a window widening inwardly opening from each of the eastern, western and southern facades.

The church is built of bluish basalt and mortar. On the whole, it has plain ornamentation in which special mention can be made of the crown of the eastern window, which is adorned with elegant bas reliefs showing two doves standing opposite each other.

The northern church, which adjoins the narthex in the north, shares the composition of the southern one, but differs from it in dimensions (3.1 x 2.45 metres). Its only entrance opens from the south. The illumination of the monument is provided through a window widening inwardly opening from each of its eastern and western facades. The latter is enriched with a great number of cross reliefs. The church is built of yellowish felsite.

At present it is in a semi-ruined state, with its roof totally destroyed.

The narthex is situated between the southern and northern churches, as if also serving as a vestibule for them.

It represents a hall of an almost square plan (4.35 x 4.1 metres) with its principal entrance opening from the west. It has a vault which is strengthened by a pair of intersecting arches resting on four angular wall pylons (only the northern section of the vault is preserved now). The central part of the vault-bearing arch, which extends from the south-east to the north-west, is adorned with the symbol of eternity and a many-petalled rosette. The narthex, which does not have windows, communicates with the churches via its northern and southern entrances. Inwardly, its eastern wall is decorated with three cross reliefs typical of the 13th century. As it also used to serve as a funerary structure, it retains some tombstones, cross-stones and fragments.

Like the northern church, the narthex is built of yellowish felsite.

The entrances to the northern and southern churches open into the narthex.

Taking into account the fact that the northern church and narthex have the same compositional and structural features, we may state that both of them were erected simultaneously, without any junction, in the 13th century, later than the southern church, the building stone of which differs from that of the narthex (there is a joint between this church and the narthex).

The graveyard, which extends north and west of the monastery, traces back to the Middle Ages. It mostly comprises pedestals without cross-stones as well as several graves that appeared here in recent decades.