vs1.jpg (68921 bytes)


   As Lake Sevan  (formerly  Gökcha,  but  renamed after the monastery)  comes into view at 1890 m, it is important to remember that since the mid-1930s the water level has dropped some 19 m, turning Sevan Island into a peninsula and creating a series of flat shelves and gravelly beaches around the lake. Under Stalin, Soviet engineers had concluded that Sevan’s large surface area meant wasteful evaporation. They decided to reduce the surface area of the lake to one-sixth is original size, farming the new land at the S end and using the excess water for hydropower and irrigation. Public outcry and the realization that completing the plan would turn the Sevan basin into a desert killed the plan, but Armenia’s engineers have continued to believe in massive intervention, digging huge tunnels to bring water north from the Arpa and (this tunnel not yet completed) Vorotan rivers, so as to allow fuller exploitation of the Hrazdan hydroelectric cascade.
   Continuing straight past the Sevan city turn-off, passing various hostels, one crosses the Hrazdan river and, about 2 km later, reaches a wide parking area with the road (right) leading to the Sevan peninsula.  Ignoring the red “no entry” signs and bearing right, one comes to the parking area and restaurants at the foot of the steps to Sevanavank (once also known as Sevank, "Black Monastery"). Here on the then island, Princess Mariam Bagratuni sponsored construction of a monastery, first post-Arab example of an important religious/architectural regional school, under the spiritual guidance of the future katholikos Mashtots.  As the 13th c. Bishop/historian Stepanos Orbelian describes it:

“In that time, the venerable Mashtots shone for his amazing virtue on the island of Sevan. ... He received the order in a vision to build a church in the name of the twelve apostles and to set up a religious community there.  In his trance, he saw 12 figures walking toward him on the sea, who showed him the place for the church.

vs13.jpg (63124 bytes)



vs2.jpg (70244 bytes)

vs12.jpg (68803 bytes)


vs3.jpg (61194 bytes)

vs9.jpg (65679 bytes)


vs4.jpg (65417 bytes)

vs10.jpg (66020 bytes)


vs5.jpg (70318 bytes)

vs6.jpg (67364 bytes)

vs8.jpg (70761 bytes)

vs7.jpg (67776 bytes)

vs11.jpg (62580 bytes)