The Watch

Bardzrakash St. Gregory Monastery

Dsegh, Lori Province, Armenia

Bardzrakash St. Gregory Monastery is a former religious complex in northern Armenia dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator, the first leader of the Armenian Church and patron saint of the Armenian people. The complex contains two churches and other remains, including numerous khachkars or memorial stelae, usually carved with the symbol of the cross. The stone structures survive in ruins with no roofs. While it is not easy to date the complex, many think that it was created in the tenth century and the earliest inscription on the site is from the period of Zakarid rule in the early 1200s. The last inscription dates from 1247, and it is likely that the monastery was abandoned as the Mongols swept through Armenia and destroyed the existing social order.

The site is now heavily overgrown by vegetation and only accessible on foot at the edge of a deep canyon, leading to an exciting sense of discovery for the visitor. The historic monastery was included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch in order to increase local awareness of its significance and its potential as a heritage destination. These developments were crucial first steps for the preservation of the site, and they could lead to its legal protection and physical conservation.

Watch Day

At Bardzrakash St. Gregory Monastery, community members participated in a cleanup day to raise awareness for the site in May 2014. Volunteers gathered to improve the area surrounding the abandoned monastery and local media attended to document the activities.

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