The ruins of Gharghavank on the hillside

Basic information
Location Zoravan, Kotayk Province,
Geographic coordinates 40°21′25″N 44°31′23″E / 40.3569°N 44.5231°E / 40.3569; 44.5231Coordinates: 40°21′25″N 44°31′23″E / 40.3569°N 44.5231°E / 40.3569; 44.5231
Affiliation Armenian Apostolic Church
Architectural description
Architectural type Central-plan aisled tetra-conch (Circular)
Architectural style Armenian
Year completed Between 661 to 685
Dome(s) 1 cupola (collapsed)
Armenia location map
Shown within Armenia

Gharghavank (also Zoravar Church) is located on the outskirts of the village of Zoravan on the lower slopes of Mount Ara in the Kotayk Province of Armenia.


According to the Armenian historian Vardan Areveltsi of the 13th century, Gharghavank was built between the years 661 to 685 by Prince Grigor Mamikonian. The church is a centrally-planned aisled tetra-conch type with eight semicircular apses radiating from the interior octagonal space. Exteriors of the eight apse walls alternate with eight rectilinear panels containing wide triangular niches which divide each of the apses. The thick apse walls and pendentives supported a drum and cupola above. Most of the drum and the cupola have since collapsed. Fragments of the geometric decoration may be seen around the premises.

There are two portals that lead into the structure. On the lintel of one, is carved a cruciform khachkar design. In the corners of the triangular niches on the exterior, are columnar decorations. Other designs may be seen around the saddles above the windows, the eaves and cornices, and decorative features were once around the portals. Foliage relief may be seen around the windows, while geometric relief is along the eaves and cornices. There are also traces of painted relief on the interior of the church. Decorative relief found on the church resembles that at the 7th century Church of Zvartnots at Ejmiatsin.

Restoration work was done to the north side of the church in 1948. Some rebar may be seen along the area where the drum once stood.

Funeral Chapel and Cemetery

A short distance from the church are the remains of another structure that served as a funeral chapel. Only a semicircular apse remains standing with some of the roofing still intact. A sundial style design is subtly embedded in the interior portion above the apse, and a single window peers out below. A cemetery is located nearby, with a few khachkars that remain preserved. Many only have a base stone where they once stood.



  • Kiesling, Brady (2005), Rediscovering Armenia: Guide, Yerevan, Armenia: Matit Graphic Design Studio 

External links

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