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Talin Cathedral church

Aragatzotn
VII c.

Talin is one of the oldest settlements of Aragatzotn district. It is mentioned even in I-IIc events, as well as in the writings of medieval Armenian historians - Stepanos Taronatsi, Mkhitar Ayrivantsi and Vardan Vardapetsi. On the territory of Talin some remainders of medieval constructions were found inadvertently during excavations.

Catoghike church is the most important of Talin's historical-architectural monuments. The exact date of its foundation is not known. From a number of existing manuscripts the oldest was dated 783, which mentioned the priest Ukhtoitur and his brother Totl, who brought water to Talin from Sarakapat field.

Being different by plan and volume-spatial foundation, it is similar to Zvartnots with architectural details (pillars, frescos, etc). This became a reason for the explorers to consider Talin's construction to be Zvartnots' contemporary and refer its ownership to Nerse? Kamsarakan (the constructor of Talin's small church), who lived in VIIc and is known in history by the nickname «Churchbuilder».

The big temple of Talin is unique monument of Armenian Church architecture and belongs to three-nave vaulted type of basilicas. Its prototype in the beginning of VIIc is the reconstructed Dvin's St.Gregory temple, which turned into a three-bayed temple from a three-nave basilica. That was achieved by adding bays into the longitudinal walls, which were half-rounded from inside and polyhedral from outside. This new idea of foundation, improved in Talin's temple, became a complete, independent and unique example of early medieval church type. In contrast to the prototype, in the scheme of the temple the mutual connection of some separate parts and symmetry of the whole picture is corrected.

The roomy, east-west rectangular praying hall's largest bay (eastern) and side (southern and northern) bays stand out marking the temple's length and width axis. The temple has five entries, one from west, and the others from north and south.

The big windows of all the walls lightened the praying hall. The outward architectural decorations of the temple are similar to the monuments of first and second half of VIIc (Zvartnots, Arutch and Artik). The corners of each of the bays are decorated with a pair of pilasters, which serve as bearings for each of the border arches.

In the capitals and the arches such motives as leaves and fruits of vine and pomegranate were used. The polyhedral drum of the dome is decorated with similar motives.

The shape and the expressive means of main entrance, western wall's pair of bays and all the windows are harmonic, represent Talin's stylistic description and are dear to Armenian architectural customs of VIIc.

This remarkable monument was half-destroyed because of the earthquakes in 1840 and 1931. It was partly fastened in 1947 and essentially reconstructed in 1972-1976. During the work, excavations found a one-nave basilica, remainders of palace building, and pedestals.

The Holy Virgin (Kamsarakans) church is situated southeast of the big church. According to undated building inscription, the owner of Shirak and Arsharunik -Nerseh Kamsarakan, built it. Lithographs date the inscription to 30's of the VIIc.

It belongs to simple, cruciform small type of churches, which in early medieval times appeared in various versions. In general simple architecture the western main entrance, arches of the windows and rack cornices stand out beautifully.

The remainders of cistern's weir are situated 200-250m to northeast from Catoghike church. From the medieval water-supply construction remains the concrete part.

Cemetery constructions: These are unique examples of early medieval architecture that were erected in environs of big and small temples (now transferred to the museum of Armenian History). Being the prototype of the Armenian khachkar, in IV-VIIcc widely spread in Armenia, these monuments consist of a cube-shaped pedestal and monument put on it. The pedestal and the monument are decorated with Christian high reliefs.

The cathedral of Talin was built in the second half of the 7th century by Kamasarakan princes. In its layout and spatial conception, it is a perfect specimen of the three-nave cupola basilica, the archetype of which is Saint Grigor at Dvin, rebuilt at the beginning of the 7th century. One modification distinguishes it from other cruciform cupola basilicas, however, the central square under the cupola is closer to the east altar, the west part of the church being extended. The apses, jutting out on the north and the south, are semicircular on the inside and polygonal on the outside. The polygonal exterior of these apses is finely decorated with blind arches, resting on twin columns. The polygonal drum of the dome repeats the same motifs. The influence of Zvartnots is plainly evident in the architectural details of this cathedral.


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