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Mysteries of Armenia

Bearing the Cross


Cross-domical compositions became the highlights of the Christian architecture design in the 5th and 6th centuries in Armenia. This period is characterized by special liturgy, symbolizing the main principle of the Eastern Christian outlook. Each rite, as well as the respective parts of the cult construction, conveyed a symbolic meaning. The church was identified with the Universe model, the focal point of which became the vault embodied in the dome. This concept started taking off in the 4th century, but neither the church nor the architects were ready to convert theory into practice. Avan Church situated in the units of the city was the first attempt to implement this idea. Erected in the second half of the 6th century, the church is quite impressive with four apses. Built on a two-step podium, the church preserves a low arched doorway but is roofless. Such composition underlies the principles of cross-domical architecture spectacularly reflected in the churches of the first period of the 7th century, such as Hripsime, Mastar, Sisian and Djvari. Avan Church is in ruin at present, though with visible construction lines. The survived vishap on the portal integrates pagan and Christian traditions.

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