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Akhtala Monastery (Ախթալա վանք)

Akhtala Monastery

Akhtala Monastery MapAkhtala Monastery is located 185 kilometers (115 mi) north of Armenian capital of Yerevan near a town of Akhtala of Lori Province.





Location: Akhtala, Lori Province    Map

Constructed: 10th century




Description of Akhtala Monastery

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Akhtala Monastery is a religious complex that was constructed in the 10th century on a steep mountain slope near Debit river. Its name is taken from a town near by and has Turcic origin that can translated as a "white glade". It is one of the most fortified monasteries of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Akhtala Monastery was initially constructed as a Royal residence on top of older Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements. In the 13th century it was turned into a Armenian Apostolic monastery. Today the monastery is inactive and abandoned.


Despite centuries of abandonment Akhtala Monastery is one of the best preserved religious complexes in Armenia. Akhtala Monastery is particularly famous for its highly artistic murals that cover the interior walls of the main church. Frescoes depict the faces of saints and religious scenes from the Bible. Other structures of the abbey include two storey living quarters with cells for the monks and pilgrims. Additionally Akhtala Monastery contains a large network of underground tunnels that were probably dug when it was a royal residence. Military defenses encircle the whole complex. As you walk around Akhtala Abbey and its vicinity you can notice large boulders with carvings of crosses that are known as "hachkara" ("hach" means "cross" in Armenian).

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