Sanahin Monastery: The History of Foundation
The monastery became an outstanding center of spiritual and cultural life of medieval Armenia in the time of kingdom of the Kyurikids (X-XII), Zakaryan principality (XII-IV). In the territory of Haghpat and Sanahin complexes were build more than 20 constructions, including. Sanahin monastery is one of the biggest spiritual and cultural complexes in Armenia, which was founded in 966 by the King Ashot III Bagratuni. The monastery is located in the village Sanahin above the town Alaverdi on 1000 m height above sea level. From the top of the hill opens beautiful view of Haghpat monastery. According to the legend the monastery complex was built in the same place where Gregory the Illuminator erected a cross in 4rd century. Sanahin monastery complex was build earlier, than Haghpat monastery complex, in Armenian Sanahin means “this one is older than that one”.
The main monuments of Sanahin complex include three churches, the book repository, the threshold, the bell tower, the religious school and also libraries and cemetery. The most ancient building is considered to be the church of St. Astvatsatsin. It was built in time of kingdom of the Abbas A Bagratuni in the first middle of the tenth century. The interiors of the Amenaprkich and St Astvatsatsin churches had fresco paintings which are now almost lost. On the eastern side of Sanahin monastery is situated St. Karapet church (the end of the 10th, the beginning of the 11th century) and has been preserved until now. The church belongs to the type of single nave basilica, which borders on the north with two elegant peaks, and to the west with St. Sarkis chapel. Sanahin’s book depository is the largest medieval book depository in Armenia. It was built by princess Hranoush. More than 50 cross-stones have survived on the monastery and cemetery territory and in the center of the Sanahin village. The cross-stones of Gregory Tutevord and St. Sarkis are considered to be very valuable because they include typical architectural elements of medieval Armenia.
Sanahin monastery complex has been repeatedly attacked by the enemies. Because of the Seljuk Turks and Persian invasions the part of the complex was burned, and monuments were lost. The monastery was badly damaged during the earthquake in 1139. All constructions in the territory of monastery are unique architectural complex which ares included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1996.