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Architecture - first of the arts

Like the previous period, this one was also doomed by the sudden loss of political autonomy resulting from the weakening of the Armenian kingdoms by the Byzantine Empire and their final destruction by the invasion of the Seljuk Turks after the mid-eleventh century.

3. The Flourishing of Monasteries (Twelfth to the Fourteenth Centuries)
The beginning of the next period coincided with the independence of Georgia at the end of the twelfth century under queen T"amar and her Armenian generals Ivané and Zakaré.

The Armenian Zakarid dynasty provided the necessary security essential for the flourishing of architecture and the construction and expansion of large monastic complexes.

From the twelfth century to the fourteenth a new renaissance, encouraged and patronized by large noble families, gave Armenian architecture its last creative moment before the renewed suffering and stagnation of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

4. The Seventeenth Century
The successive invasions of Greater Armenia by Timur Lang at the end of the fourteenth century, coinciding with the destruction of the Armenian kingdom of Cilicia by the Mamluks in 1375, ended architectural activity for nearly 250 years. No new buildings were erected until the seventeenth century and existing structures were barely maintained.

In the seventeenth century a final national revival under the rule of the Safavid Shahs of Iran produced a limited series of new constructions, the churches at Mughni and Shoghakat" at Etchmiadzin are two important examples in Greater Armenia and the churches of New Julfa, the Armenian suburb of Isfahan, are the most famous of diasporan monuments.

During this period many older monuments were restored and expanded: Aght"amar, the cathedral of Etchmiadzin, Hrip"simé are among the best known.

5. Modern Armenian Architecture
Innovative architecture after the seventeenth century came to a stop in Armenian proper, but Armenian architecture continued in diasporan cities like Constantinople, Tiflis, and more remote areas such as Singapore.

In the second half of the nineteenth century a new architecture development in all Armenian communities was inspired by the national revival. In the years 1915 and after Armenian culture stopped totally in the ancient homeland.

The Armenian population in eastern Anatolia was disseminated and the surviving remnants deported. Large numbers of ancient medieval monuments were destroyed.

During the same years the Bolshevik revolution and the effects of its anti-religious propaganda after Armenian was made a Soviet Republic in 1920 also resulted in the abandoning of buildings of the cult and occasionally in their destruction.

Only after the Second World War did a demographically expanding and constantly immigrating nation display a need for new church buildings. Everywhere in the diaspora, but especially in the Americas and western Europe, new churches were and are being built.

In Armenia the same tendency has been gaining momentum, especially in the 1980s, under the leadership of both the Catholicos of All Armenians, Vazgen I, and the Committee for the Preservation of Monuments, which have undertaken the restoration and even rebuilding of the hundreds of medieval monuments that fall under its jurisdiction.

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Writer: Dickran Kouymjian
Editor: Eugenia Melkonyan
 Date Added: Tuesday September 05, 2006 10:46:23 

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