Architettura Armena









The church dedicated to the Holy Cross (Surb Nshan) was built between 915 and 921 by the architect Manuel as a palatine chapel for King Gagik I Artsruni on a small island off the southern shore of Lake Van. Subsequently it was also the seat of a number of Katholikoi. The ground plan of the church is that of a tetraconch with cylindrical niches at the corners two of which lead to chapels flanking the eastern apse. This type which is usually con­sidered to be derived from the church of St. Hripsime at Vałarshapat (Vllth century) was also used for the little church of Soradir likewise located in the district of Vaspurakan. The interior is decorated with frescoes of the New Testament on the walls and apses and the cycle of Genesis in the dome. The exterior is covered by a very large number of reliefs which have made the building famous. They depict various scenes from the Old Testament, the life of Christ, saints and evangelists; these are ac­companied by horizontal frescoes of animals, plants, hunting scenes, vintage scenes, etc. A series of various XIVth-XIXth century buildings encircled the church. Among them was the residence of the Katholikos which is now totally destroyed.