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Church St.Gevorg of Mughni

Aragatzotn
XIV c.

In the 17th century life in Eastern Armenia became relatively stabilized with the immediate result that the economy of the country, where important trade routes lay, revived. Settlements were restored, civil and religious buildings were erected. New monastery complexes were small, as a rule. As distinct from their predecessors they had one church with a chapel and a belfry, residential and service premises situated along the fortress wall which enclosed the bailey. Such is the monastery in the village of Mughni, Aragatzotn district.

Standing on an elevation, it is the architectural dominant of a vast settlement and of the territory adjacent to it. Its only church, St.Gevorg (XIVc), is in the center of a wall-enclosed rectangle the north-eastern corner of which is occupied by celIs and service structures. The first storey of the northern wing housed storerooms and the second one - monks’ cells.

The Eastern wing was much smarter in appearance. At the top, there were the Father Superior’s chambers to which an external one-flight stairway led. Below, there was a refectory with a kitchen and a pantry. For the worshipper’s convenience, it had an exit to a small square beyond the eastern wall of the monastery. Pilgrims' carts were usually parked there.

St.Gevorg church was restored in 1661-1669 by the architects Sahak Khizanetsi and his successor Murat. It is of a cross-winged domed basilica type. This capital structure of a considerable size is among the best works of architecture of those times.

Architectural details emphasize the artistic expressiveness of the building. Special attention was given to the tympanum of the western portal which is decorated with an ornament of luxuriant foliage and vases typical of West European baroque. It can be accounted for by Armenia’s trade ties with Western Europe.

In the interior of the church there have survived fragments of frescoes dating back to the seventeenth century, which were probably created by Naghash Ovnatan, the decorator of Ejmiatzin cathedral and of a number of churches near Yerevan and Agulis.


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