St. Stepanos Church

The St. Stepanos Church, high above on the edge of a mountainous gorge, watches over the village of Kosh. To get there you must drive north out of Kosh and take a rough dirt road. A 4x4 is recommended but I think you could make it without one. When you reach the church, you will be treated to a unique site! Approaching from the southwest you will see that the western wall is built against the side of the gorge! Based on its architecture, the church is dated to the 7th century. It has a centrally planned cruciform design with a dome overtop. There is a partially stepped foundation around the western side. The main entrance is decorated with triple columns on each side with an arch and decorated tympanum above the door. There is an interesting carving that has a cross with equal arms, classic for early Armenian sites, but it includes flowering roots which I have not seen before. Directly to the right of the entrance on the eastern wall, there are inscriptions. The eastern side is right on the edge of the gorge. The cruciform interior has 3 rectangular arms while the eastern apse of the altar is semi-circular. There are chambers on either side of the apse. Above the altar, you will see remnants of wall paintings. On the top left, you will see the largest remainder which could be an image of "Christ in Glory". Walk around the church and climb up the hill behind to reach the top of the gorge. At the top, you will find a medieval cemetery with interesting 13th-century khachkars and a small chapel. There is a unique pedestal built into the wall. From here you will also get an amazing view. The church functioned until the 18th century. In 1970-1973 the walls and roofs of the church were repaired and in 2007-2008 the dome was restored.

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