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Index of Armenian Art: Armenian Architecture

ZORAVAR

Type: Triple nave basilica
Location: Near Erevan, 3 Km northeast of Eghvard in in the Astarak region.
Date: VII c. Between 661 and 685
Evidence for date: The church was commissioned by Prince Grigor Mamikonyan during his rule (661-685), according to the historian Vardan Barjrberdc'i (XIIIC). There is a long inscription carved on the exterior, now illegible, and many stonemason's marks on the interior.
Important details:
State of preservation: Most of the church has collapsed. Only a portion of the north side, restored in 1948, is standing.
Reconstructions:
Summary: Zoravar is a central plan church with eight semicircular apses radiating from the large inner octagonal space which was surmounted by a cupola. The eastern apse is larger than the others and is pentagonal on the exterior. The large externally polygonal drum of the cupola was supported by a system of thick apse walls and pendentives. Between the apses there are engaged columns on high bases which are also part of the supporting system. It is circular on the interior and dodecagonal on the exterior. The church is polygonal on the exterior. The rectilinear exteriors of the eight apses alternate with the eight panels containing wide, triangular niches. The niches mark the divisions between the interior apses. Some of the decorative relief resemble motifs found in the 7th century church of Zuart'noc'. There are also traces of painted ornament on the interior.

Zoravar is one of the more notable monuments of 7th century Armenian architecture in its plan and construction. Together with the similar, eight apsed 7th century church of Irind, it was new and innovative among the variety of plans that evolved during the 6th and 7th centuries. The interest in creating a large, unobstructed space in the center of a church with more than four apses continued during subsequent centuries. Examples include at least two churches with eight apses (St. P'rkic', at Ani and Varzan, now destroyed) and others with six apses, particularly at Ani.

 

 


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