Over the last thousand years the world has changed in a myriad of ways. While this has undoubtedly had a net positive on most aspects of the word, we have seen a couple of things fall by the wayside – one of which is history.
There are so many countries that have had a huge historical impact, that people have never heard of.
Countries like Armenia, for example.
A small country that shares its borders with Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, Armenia has a culture, sprit, and history that is unique to its own. Filled with amazing sights, a community of happy people, and a rich backdrop of social interaction, it truly is a special place.
More significantly, Armenia was one of earliest Christian civilisations on the planet – and as such, it is full to the brim with unbelievable religious sites that should be recognised by people across the globe.
But instead, they are facing their doom.
See, the history of Armenia is full of bloodshed.
Over thousands of years it faced countless invasions, before eventually succumbing to the Soviet Union in the 1900s. Then, after close to a hundred years of oppression, it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 – only to be drawn into civil war with Azerbaijan.
As a result, its incredible Christian history – and its religious sites – are facing destruction.
Including the amazing Gtichavank Monastery.
What is the Gtichavank Monastery?
Gtichavank is an Armenian Apostolic monastery, located in the Tugh village of what is now Azerbaijan.
In modern day, remains of this amazing structure can be reached by those willing to hike up the “Janapar Trail”, a long-distance track that runs from Vardenis in Armenia all the way to Hadrut in Artsakh.
Built in 13th century, this architectural anomaly sits on the top of a beautiful, forested mountain, where it looks over dense forest for miles around. Gtichavank was once the seat for all the religious leaders in the region, while also housing a school, scriptorium, and a library.
Interestingly, early manuscripts indicate that before the monastery was built, a famous church stood in its place. The destination of numerous pilgrims, this church was the heart of the region, full of religious sprit and sense of community that can only be imagined in modern day.
Built between the years of 1241-1248 by the famous Amaris bishops (and brothers) Saint Sargis and Saint Vrtanes, this church was considered a hub of Armenian Christian religion, politics, and culture.
Over time the monastery was built around the church, offering a haven to both pilgrims and the local community. A place of shelter, respite, food, and community.
However, despite this growth, the fan roofed church remined one of the finest structures within the complex.
Built from trimmed blocks of yellowish stone that were quarried in monastery’s surroundings, it stood out from the other buildings. Then combine that with the intricate khachkars that sat either side of the interior portal, and you have a truly special place.
Unfortunately, it did not last.
The Fall of Gtichavank
During an Arabic invasion, Gtichavank suffered destruction.
While it was believed the people within the building escaped, the Church was not so lucky. Buildings were burned, stoned were broken, and structures were destroyed – the monastery was left in state beyond recognition.
Then, over the next 500 years it was left to rot.
It was ignored during the Soviet invasion, with the walls of the monastery left to the local soviet people. Now covered in graffiti, crumbled, and broken, the strong structure that sits on top of the maintain is barely recognisable.
When the Soviet Union finally left the country in 1991, the chance of a full redevelopment arose. The Armenian people returned to Gtichavankc after centuries of despair, and hope was once again on the horizon – before, once again, disaster struck.
Gtichavank: A New Threat
One would hope that after all the pain, destruction, and blood shed they have experienced, the Armenian people would finally get the chance to return their religious structures – and the sprit of their country – to their former glory.
But they were not so lucky.
Almost 30 years after escaping the Soviet Union, Armenia was forced into the “care” of the Republic of Azerbaijan. A country that intends to wipe out the amazing Christian culture of Armenia through nothing but force and aggression.
If this goes unnoticed, you can be sure that Gtichavankc monastery will finally meet its doom.
While Armenia has repeatedly surprised the world with is strength and durability in the face of constant threats, we do not want it to go it alone.
Instead, we want it to be supported by the help and faith of the world.
Your help, and your faith.