the Holy Mother of God church, part of the Noravank Monastery complex

Noravank (nora is new, vank means monastery) is located high up a small plateau above the Gnishik River, a tributary to the Arpa River. Arriving in the morning provides a splendid view of the light-coloured churches against the backdrop of red rocks in the sun.

The oldest churches here are the ruins of 9th-10th Century Church of John the Baptist, but the working churches of the complex are 13th C, built by members of the Orbelian family, Georgians who moved into Armenia at the time. Remember that the Orbelians were also responsible for the Selim Caravanserai seen earlier. One of the churches served as mausoleum for the family, but outside the church, and in the gavit, further tomb stones are to be found.

A characteristic of the churches here are the tympana – a tympanum is a semi-circular decoration above a door, for instance. Above both main churches, the John the Baptist church and the Mother of God church, are two tympany, each with their own specific image. The upper one of the John the Baptist church is the most remarkable, an image of God holding a head in his hand, although it remains unclear whose head it is – probably John the Baptist.

another view of the Mother of God church

with intricate carved decoration in the outside wall

church entrance, with lower and upper door, and the tympana

tympanum over the upper door, Christ flanked by the apostles Peter and Paul

the entrances to the John the Baptist church – against the sun, unfortunately

the lower tympanum, depicting Mary and Jesus

and the upper one, the one with God with a head in his hand

and inside the church, khachkars and another remarkable bas-relief

the gavit of the John the Baptist church

another evocative bas-relief in one of the churches

one of the khachkars outside the churches

a tombstone, outside, with a body shape carved onto it

carved tomb stones inside the gavit to the John the Baptist church

the church wall, decorated with small crosses of people who wanted to leave their mark

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