Destruction of Horomos Monastery


YEREVAN (Armenpress/VirtualAni)–Armenia is preparing to submit a complaint to the International Council on Monumen’s and Sites (ICOMOS) about the barbaric destruction of the Horomos Monastery in historic Armenia. According to Armenpress–the stones of the outer walls of the monastery–considered a historical monument–are categorically being removed.

Founded in 1965–ICOMOS is an international non-governmental organization of professionals–dedicated to the conservation of the world’s historic monumen’s and sites. ICOMOS provides a forum for professional dialogue and a vehicle for the collection–evaluation–and dissemination of information on conservation principles–techniques–and policies. ICOMOS has an international role under the World Heritage Convention to advise the World Heritage Committee and United Nations Educational–Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

HOROMOS MONASTERY

The monastery of Horomos is situated about 15 km north-east of Ani–beside the Akhurian river–and is reached by a rough track that runs close to the edge of the river’s ravine. It was one of the most important religious and cultural centers within the Kingdom of Ani–and was founded during the reign of King Abas the first (943-953)–a period of monastic revival in Armenia. The importance of Horomos increased greatly after 961–when the capital of the Bagratid kingdom was moved to Ani. The Bagratid kings turned the monastery into a royal burial ground. In 982–it was sacked and burned by Muslim invaders–but was soon restored and enlarged under the later Bagratid kings who built new chapels and churches.

The immediate history of the monastery after Ani’s capture by the Turks in 1064 is unknown. After a break–donative inscriptions on the buildings begin to reappear as early as 1174–and a man’script from the 1180s describes it as a renowned religious and cultural center. Horomos became an important burial place for the feudal families who governed Ani on behalf of the Mkhargrdzeli dynasty–the rulers of the Ani region during the 13th century. The monastery had a large library and an active scriptorium–and it is believed that the archbishops of Ani and northern Armenia’sat here.

The latest dated inscription from the medieval period at Horomos is from 1336. From then–the history of the monastery is not known until the late 17th century–and it may have been abandoned for part of this period. In 1788–the monastery was renovated–the circuit walls restored–and the cupola bell tower built (or rebuilt). Further renovations and restorations took place in the years 1852–1868–1871–and 1878.

Many of the visitors to Ani during the 19th century stayed at Horomos–and the monastery continued in operation until 1920. During the Russian period a village surrounded the main part of the monastery – but the site is entirely deserted today. There has been substantial damage to the monastery since 1920. Some buildings have entirely vanished–and most of the surviving walls have been stripped of facing masonry. The dome of the Church of the St. John collapsed in the 1970s. Gaining access to the monastery–which was never easy–is now virtually impossible.

The monastery comprises two separate groups of structures. The main part of the monastery lies within a fortified enclosure that occupies the highest part of a peninsula–at the edge of cliffs above the Arpa river. Below and to the north of the main complex is a row of three churches built on a rise in the ground and encircled by a dried-up meander of the river.

There are other remains near the monastery. About 500m to the north–overlooking the monastery and built on the route to Ani–is a structure known as the "triumphal arch". Two kilometers to the north of the monastery stands an isolated church whose original name is unknown. It is now known as the Taylar church (named after a nearby village) and is probably from the 10th century.

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