St. Astvatsatsin Church
ArchitectsShahik Vardapet

The village of Yeghvard (25 min from Yerevan) is home to the stunning 14th-century St. Astvatsatsin church. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful Armenian churches in the world! The amount of ornamentation is unrivaled, and you need to take your time walking around it! You may notice that the design of this church is almost identical to Kaptavank in Kaputan village. Starting from the west side (front of the church) you can see where steps that would have led up to the upper part of the church would have been. The upper floor has a semi-cruciform layout. This is just like Noravank, but with one important difference. Unlike Noravank, the second floor was reached not by stone steps, but by movable wooden stairs to participate in the Holy Liturgy. Above the beautifully decorated upper door, are the motifs of a bull and lion which then leads to a large cross carved in high relief flanked by the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus and Saint Hovhannes (Joseph). Moving right, to the southern façade, we see a large window and a motif of a large bird with a geometric rosette on its chest holding a donkey in its talons. Unfortunately, the head of the bird is gone. Under the eagle sculpture, on the top of the window column, the architect's name is inscribed: Shahik Vardapet. Next, on the eastern façade, is the motif of a large cat attacking a goat. Maybe it is the elusive Caucasian leopard attacking a bezoar goat$23 Both of these animals can be found in Khosrov Forest preserve. Finally, on the northern façade, you can find a large cross-relief and a lonely goat. This is the only happy goat as it's not being attacked by anything! The church was renovated in the 1960s. The columns of the dome were changed and fortified.

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