The Holy Couple of Sevan
Every tourist who has looked through a guide-book about Armenia, noticed the only “sea” of the country: Sevan Lake. Generally Sevan is associated with holidays, sunny beaches and relaxing people. But it is also a place for pilgrimage for Christian people. They visit Monastic complex of Sevanavank situated close to the Lake. The monastic complex was initially situated on a small Island set on the lake, but in the 20th century, during the Soviet Union era, there was a verdict to artificially drain the waters of the lake, after which the island became a peninsula.
So, now the monastic complex covers the upper part of the peninsula and creates one of the most picturesque views of the monasteries in Armenia. A unique view with the iridescent shades of emerald color of the shiny lake on the background. Near the churches there are dozens of Khachkars (cross-stones), some of which have been carved out from the stone found from the drained part of the lake and have the same color as the waters of the lake.
The architecture of this complex is also remarkable and can be spoken about for hours. The complex itself consists of two churches: Surp Astvatsatsin meaning the “Holy Mother of God” and Surp Arakelots meaning the “Holy Apostles”. Both have cruciform plan structures with octagonal tambours. Unfortunately, nearby can be seen the ruins of the gavit, the roof of which was originally supported by wooden columns with many interesting carvings, which represented the culture and history of the people settled in the region. One of these columns now is kept in the History Museum of Armenia, which is situated in Yerevan.
The Complex was restored different times, but the most global one was made from 1956 to 1957.
The history tells us that Sevanavank was initially built by the Princess Mariam and her father Ashot in 874, then the father became the king of Ancient Armenia and the Monastic Complex served as a servitor for those monks who had sinned. Testimonies remain about the fact that the monks stayed in the monastery for months with water and bread only. Some researchers who visited the complex state that even in the end of 17th century the manuscripts in Sevanavank were copied manually.
Today some of these manuscripts can be found in the Museum of Matenadaran in Yerevan.