Over the last hundred years the world has evolved at a rapid rate.
Disease and illness are at an all-time low, there is less poverty than ever before, and we have everything we need at the touch of a fingertip.
However, what many people fail to forget is that there are many countries across the globe that are still in dire situations.
Countries that face death and destruction every single day, forced to suffer in silence.
Countries like Armenia.
Armenia is a small country that shared its borders with Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Well known for its strong will and unique culture, it is full of beautiful architecture, happy people, and amazing scenery.
Interestingly, Armenia was also one of earliest Christian civilisations on the planet – making it home to several amazing religious sites and structures.
Structures that are now in danger.
Over the last thousand years Armenia faced countless invasions, before eventually yielding to the Soviet Union in the 1900s. Then, after finally gaining independence in 1991, it was quickly drawn into war with Azerbaijan.
Now its many religious sites are facing destruction.
Including the amazing Yerits mankants Monastery.
The Yerits mankants Monastery
The Yerits Mankants Monastery is a 17th-century Armenian monastery, located in the Martakert Province of the Republic of Artsakh – a province that has recently been “reclaimed” by Azerbaijan.
It is arguably the most notable example of monasteries built during the late Middle Ages in this region of Armenia, after a large interruption in Armenian church building occurred between 14th and 16th centuries.
With this in mind, Yerits Mankants monastery was built around 1691. It was established by the feudal family of Melik-Israelians, Lords of Jraberd, with an apparent purpose to rival the Holy See of Gandzasar and its hereditary patrons the Hasan-Jalalians, Lords of Khachen.
Today the Yerits mankants Monastery can be seen from miles around, where it rises from the top of a forested Mountain, housed majestically by the surrounding nature.
The Architecture of Yerits mankants
Built in 1691, this three-nave vaulted basilica church was made of locally sourced trimmed white stone. It has a dome temple that rises over four amazing square cruciform pillars, and the arches connecting them. The square beam of the door is completely lithographed, covered in carvings from top to bottom.
The architect of this amazing building is Sargis, whose left his mark via an inscription that sits on the northern side of the stage wall. It read, “The builder and the master of the church Sargis remember with Christ“.
From the inside, the church is of an interesting design.
Upon entry you walk into a large hall that is marked by several magnificent pillars. There are four distinct pointed intermingled arches, and big windows at either side of the drum. Finally, there are two two-storied sacristies, surrounded by numerous smaller khachkars and windows.
Beyond the main structure there are several preserved dwellings, rooms, and buildings, that collectively demonstrate the number of monks who lived and breathed Yeritsmankants Vank. Each of these rooms had fireplaces and windows.
The dwelling cell in the eastern part of the church consists of a vaulted hall, which opens at the yard, and doors which open to the rooms situated on both sides of the hall.
There is a reason that Yerits mankants Vank was considered the home of Christianity in the region. This large building sat majestically over the surrounding forest. To make it to the location locals were required to conquer the long and winding road up to the building.
The challenging trail was set to exercise the body, soul, and sprit, before setting eyes on the amazing structure – a trip that was, and always will be, well worth it.
The Despair of Yerits mankants
From the date it was built right up until the start of the 19th century, Yerits mankants Vank was the hub of spirituality for the region.
Fill to the brim with monks, it was regarded for miles around. Pilgrims for all over Aremina took the strenuous climb up the mountain to view this beautiful temple, and to spend as little as a day basking in its presence.
But once the Soviet Union took over the country in the early 1900s, it was largely left to rot.
There were no monks to maintain the beautiful structure and its surrounds. There were no pilgrims making the journey up to see the beautiful monastery. There were no Armenians willing to take that risk because the punishment was too high.
But there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Yerits mankants Vank was finally returned to the Armenian Apostolic Church during the late 1900s. While it is now overgrown with greenery and dilapidated in sections, it largely remains unchanged – a beautiful, stoic building that has seemingly grown out of the mountaintop.
And after nearly a century of pain and destruction, it finally looked as if the Armenian people would get some time to rebuild.
That Yerits mankants Vank would be rebuilt to its former glory.
Yet, it was not to be.
Thirty years after escaping the punishing reign of the Soviet Union, Armenia was forced into the “care” of the Republic of Azerbaijan. A nation that looks to wipe out its amazing Christian history, and its amazing monuments with it.
There is a genuine possibility that Yerits mankants Vank will be left in state beyond repair – assuming it is not destroyed completely.
While Armenia has repeatedly surprised the world with is strength and stoicism in the face of danger, this final threat may be too great for them to face alone.
To survive they need the help and faith of the world.
They need your help, and your faith.