Architettura Armena









OROTNAVANK' / Xth-Xllth centuries
Monastic complex standing on the slopes of the valley of the Orotan river in northern Siwnik'. The building of the monastery created a pretext for the defense of this region; the ruins of a real castle are to be found downstream beyond the fortified walls of the monastery. Orotnavank' was an important cultural center since it was the home of a university which was later transferred to Tat'ew.
Of the two churches, the older dates from the Xth century. It consists of a single hall covered by a barrel vault reinforced by transverse arches. The second church (Xlth century) was a domed hall and is now almost completely in ruins. It must have been plastered and perhaps covered with frescoes which is a relative rarity in Armenian architecture. The system of inserting amphoras into the fresh cement to lighten the weight of the cupola was borrowed from Byzantine or Roman art.
Parts of the library and of the portico with horseshoe arcades also remain. The characteristic crenellation of the cornices follows more archaic forms already used in the Vllth century.