Murad M. Hasratyan

Key words – fortress-church; monastery- fortress; Middle Ages; defensive wall; fences; sacristies; pyramids; felting constructions, refectory

In Middle Ages in Armenia in addition to fortresses and monasteries separate churches were also used for defense. There are two architectural groups of fortress-churches in Armenia. The first group includes those churches, which were initially built for defensive purposes, for instance the one-nave basilica of Agarak (IV century), the church and the vestibule of the monastery of Arakelots in Ijevan (XIII century), a three-storied fortress-church of Sedvi (XIII century).]

The second larger group includes the churches that were converted into fortresses in the Middle Ages. the Ashtarak basilica (V century), the Tsiranavor church in Parbi (V century), the central-cupola church in Mastara (VII century), etc., were surrounded by walls without towers, while the churches of Kumayri (VII century), Jrapi ( VII century), Noragavita (X-XI centuries) Ashnak (X-XI centuries) were surrounded by walls with semi-circular pyramid towers. Over the roof of the Shirakavank cathedral (IX century) a room for the defenders was built.

In the architecture of the fortress-churches their genetic connection with the fortification art of medieval Armenia is definitely manifested and the innovation is that it is an original combination of the compositions of the cult building and the defensive structure.

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