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Sanahin monastery

     The Sanahin monastery is situated in the north of Armenia, in the Lori district, within the limits of Alaverdi city. Standing on a high plateau, amidst low structures, they rise sharp against the background of steep forest-grown slopes of Bazum ridge. The exact date of the foundation of Sanahin is unknown. Documentary evidence and monuments of material culture suggest that these structure date back to the middle of the 10th century. The formation of Tashir-Dzoraget kingdom of the Kyurikids in 979 and the great attention paid to Sanahin by various rulers of Armenia and their vassals favored the construction of many religious and civil structures there. In this monastery humanitarian sciences and medicine were studied, scientific treatises written and paintings, most miniatures created.
     The main monastery buildings are grouped around chief temple. Most of the religious structures are of the cross-winged dome type and have side-chapels in four corners, or of the cupola hall type. The structures of the fist type are St. Hakob church (the 9th century), St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Virgin) church, built some time between 928 and 944 and St. Amenaprkich church, completed in 966. Standing out among these churches is St. Amenaprkich built by Khosrovanuish, the wife of Ashot III Bagratuni. This majestic structure has two-tier side-chapels. The severe and majestic eastern facade is crowned in its gable with a monumental sculptural group of Kings Kyurike and Smbat. Chronologically, this is the first high-relief representation of human figures with a model of a church, which gives it great importance in Armenian art. The interiors of St. Astvatsatsin and St. Amenaprkich churches were decorated with frescoes which are almost totally lost by now.

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