Aruchavank

A couple of minutes away from the Aruch Caravanserai is the humongous St. Grigor Church or Aruchavank. This massive basilica is one of the largest in Armenia. It was commissioned by Prince Grigor Mamikonian and his wife Heline during the second half of the 7th Century (661-682). The church is a single-nave domed hall design, but as you can see the drum and dome are no longer there. There are 9 windows on the northern and southern walls and above each one there are different decorative frames. You can see the original frames are decorated and the restored ones are not. The eastern wall behind the apse is the most decorated with triangular niches that form the outline of the semi-circular apse. Most of the time the shape of the apse is hidden on the inside and you just see a flat wall with a single window. Surrounding the whole site is a cemetery as well as the remains of another small chapel as well as the ruins of the Mamikonian palace built around the same time. We enter through the western entrance but there are also entrances from the north and south. Looking around you will see the many windows and the remnants of decorations that used to adorn the walls. The thing you will notice is first the big hole where the dome used to be. The massive arches with decorative pilasters are used to support it. The second thing you will notice is the apse and altar of the church! 3 windows let in plenty of light and above the windows, you will see an enormous wall painting of Christ with a scroll in his hand. Below Him, on the northern side, you can see the remnants of the apostles. There are chambers on either side of the apse.

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