St. Vartan Church
Built901

The village of Alapars was refounded in 1828-30 by immigrants from Maku and Khoy. The St. Vartan church or Vardanavank is one of the main churches of the village. It was built in 901 AD and rebuilt in the 19th century although it is hard to tell what was originally standing and what was part of the restoration. The church is built of rough basalt stone, and the bell tower at the southern entrance is made of polished tuff stone. On the western wall, there is a second entrance. There are a few khachkars around the outside of the building as well. The inside of the church is similar to the St. Gevork church in Argel with its wooden ceiling and columns. In the little prayer rooms next to the altar there are two beautifully painted wooden doors. I am not sure if they were original to the church, part of the 19th-century restoration, or something in between. According to local legend, the Khoys who migrated to Alapars brought with them from Avarayr two stones stained with the blood of Vardan Mamikonyan, the hero of the famous defeat of Avarayr on June 2, 451 at the hands of Persians attempting to restore the Zoroastrian religion in Armenia. Unfortunately, we weren't able to find this stone. In the southern wall, there is a little area with a piece of wood from a tree that was apparently planted by Vardan Mamikonyan in the area of Ijevan before going to the Avarayr plain. Directly to the east of the church is the St. Hovhannes chapel from the 7th century. I am not sure how much of it has been restored and if it was restored at the same time as the St. Vartan church. You can see the stepped foundation of the church which is consistent with other churches of that time period. Two large khachkars flank the main southern entrance.

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