Architettura Armena









T'ADEI VANK' / Xllth -XIXth centuries
This large monastery called Kara Kilise («the Black Church») in Turkish is now located on Iranian territory some 20 kilometers from Maku. According to tradition it was founded by St. Thaddeus on the site of a pagan temple. It was destroyed by earthquake in 1319, reconstructed in 1329, restored and enlarged repeatedly until the XIXth century.
The church with its two conical cupolas visible from afar forms the main part of the monastery. It stands in the center of a large square precinct fortified with cylindrical towers at the corners and containing all the rooms with secular functions.

The church consists of an ancient part of domed hall type with an apse inscribed in a rectangle. This portion is for the most part built of dark grey basalt almost devoid of decorative motifs except for the drum which is laid in alternating circular courses of black and white stones. In front of it and in the same axis was added a much larger later portion whose square plan was undoubtedly influenced by Ejmiatsin. It contains four free-standing pillars, two projecting lateral apses with polygonal exteriors and a smaller apse on the western side which serves as entrance. This recent part built of yellow stone completely recovers the earlier building. Its exterior surfaces are richly decorated with bas-reliefs (prophets and saints); they are articulated below by small blind arcades and in the upper part by a motif of twin half-columns separated by a continuous frieze of zoomorphic arabesques. Finally, a small unfinished porch supported by four pillars is adjacent to this portion. The internal and external surfaces of this porch are also covered with blind arcading and figurative or geometric bas-reliefs.