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Mysteries of Armenia

Sacred Symbols

The crosses carved on rocks or individual tombs are unique monuments of Armenian medieval architecture. For centuries they have been called sacred symbols. The earlier samples date from the 4th–5th centuries. For quite a long time they were merely used as an element of memorial constructions, but already in the 9th century they transmuted into complete individual composition with the sainted symbol of tree of life in its centre. The stone cross in Garni, which was set up in 879 in memory of Queen Katranida, is the most ancient of the extant ones. In the 19th century, historians who were studying this peculiar type of architecture, called such monuments khachkar, which can literally be translated from Armenian as cross-stone. Khachkars are matchless examples of architectural thought: nothing of the kind has ever been made anywhere in the world. Tens of thousands of those monuments, scattered all over the Mountainous Island, define the bygone region of the Armenian’s vitality and set the boundaries of their historic fatherland. The greatest memorial on the territory of present-day Armenia dates from the 13th–18th centuries and comprises hundreds of crosses inscribed in tuff gravestones. It is located on the western shore of Lake Sevan, not far from Noratus cape.

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