Armenian Travel Bureau

Inbound travel to the Republic of Armenia

Armenia What to see? Monasteries and Temples Kecharis Monastery

Kecharis Monastery

Kecharis Monastery is in the center of town, where Charents meets Grigor Magistros street.

The 11th-13th cc monastery was a major learning center in medieval Armenia, connected to the greatest of Armenia's nakharar families, the Pahlavunis, Orbelis (Orbelians), Zakarians, and Proshians, led by the greatest Armenian academicians and political statesmen of the time, Grigor Magistros Pahlavuni (nee Bagratuni), Vasak Khaghbakian and Khachatur Kecharetsi (Khachatur of Kecharis).

Kecharis Monastery

Some type of church had been on the site from the time of conversion, replacing pagan shrines that glorified the ancient gods of Armenia, favored of the Arshakuni and Parthian rulers that hunted in the area.

Nothing is known about the earlier structures except for a 5th c basilica which remains have been found, and references to the site as part of the royal domains, given to the Varazhnunis and Kamsarakans in the 4th-6th cc, who probably enlarged or built churches on the site.

Kecharis Monastery

In the late 10th c, the Pahlavuni family inherited the region. The monastery was established by Grigor Magistros Pahlavuni in the early 1000s, who commissioned the first church, S. Grigor Lusavorich in 1033, followed by the smaller S. Nshan (Holy Sign) in 1051.

Grigor Magistros was a member of a powerful ruling family, able to endow the monastery with gold and silver plate, furnishings and décor, as well as land holdings to support the fledging monastery.

Looking at the current monastery, you may be forgiven for wishing some of that gold and silver pate were still around. As majestic an edifice as it is, Kecharis still misses something of the grandeur it once knew, when it rivaled the royal compound in Bjini (also founded by Grigor Magistros), for beauty and prestige.

Inside the monastery Kecharis

Having succumbed to countless invasions and the ravages of natural calamity (the 1926 earthquake only the last of a string of tremors that felled the church walls), we may never again see the awe-inspiring jewel encrusted reliquaries that sat with walls covered in silver and gold plate, rich tapestries and silken carpets that once decorated the now austere walls.

Still, the monastery does not fail to impress those who visit, and the local caretakers are a willing repository of recent history and faith.

Information Support

Armenian Travel Bureau Information Support