Shativank, Spitakavor

MODERATE 1 reviews

Shativank, Spitakavor is a 14.2 kilometer lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Shatin, Kotayk', Armenia that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking.

DISTANCE
14.2 km
ELEVATION GAIN
1073 m
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

hiking

views

wild flowers

wildlife

historic site

Shativank Church is located near the village of Shatin, in the Vayots Dzor province. The monastery and village were named after Shatik Menakyats, the prelate of the Verin Noravank Monastery. The hike starts at a bridge near Shatin, and follows a dirt road 3.5km towards the church. Bezoar goats are very common in this area, and can be seen leaping up near-vertical cliffs. The route continues up the rocky mountains past the church until the medieval monastery, Spitakavor, near Vernashen village. The route returns from Vernashen. Princes Smbat and Sahak of Syunik and Lady Sophia ordered the construction of Shativank Monastery on the right side of Shatin Gorge, in 929. The monastery consists of a church and other residential blocks for the monastery’s inhabitants, including dining rooms, barns, big and small residence chambers, a water mill, fountain and wheat granaries. The church of the monastery is called St. Sion. It was in the 17th century, when rich merchants from Jugha initiated its reconstruction. The grounds also have many khachkars (cross stones) from this era, and many documents found within the church have been preserved. The upright basilica church was part of the reconstruction by the merchants, built in 1656, to which the vestry to the west and south entrance hall were added. There are still remains of the original frescos with biblical themes, and under the frescoes carvings in Armenian such as “Ոտնալույս” meaning foot-washing, “Վերնատուն” meaning upper storey and “Քարընկեց” meaning stone-throwing, are depicted. Inscriptions on Tsatour Bridge (on the way to the monastery), built in 1666, tell of there being 90 monks living at the monastery at a time. It also served as a small fortress, surrounded by huge walls and towers, atop a cliff. Archaeological digs in the church grounds and surrounding areas have revealed a lot of important information about the lifestyle and industry of the monastic complexes of the 15th-16th centuries. There was evidence of iron smelting, polished pottery, production of crystal and glass and a heating system. There were also the remains of an aqueduct made of clay pipes that would bring water to the church over a distance of 3km. According to inscriptions on the walls, Prince Eachi, of the noble Proshyan family, founded the main church of Spitakavor Monastery, St. Astvatsatsin– and his son, Amir-Hasan B., completed its construction in 1321. Located around 7km north of Vernashen, in a landscape punctured by deep gorges, the monastery gets its name from the white polished felsite stone with which it was built (Spitak means “white” in Armenian). The complex comprises of a single church, its narthex, a three-storey belfry (both built by spouses Hovhannes and Tandzna in 1330) and the fortified walls encompassing it. The church’s only entrance is on the western side, above which is a relief of St. Mary, the Mother of Jesus – a remarkable example of Medieval Armenian sculpting. There are many other carved figures around the church, both spiritual and secular, including one of Prince Eachi and his son Amir Hasan, and one of Amir Hasan hunting. Spitakavor is also home to the graves of the Armenian military leader, Sparapet, and the political thinker, Garegin Nzhdeh – which makes it a place of pilgrimage to Armenians all over the world. It is also the location of some scenes in the film “Lonely Walnut Tree”. Nearby, the ruins of Boloraberd Fortress can be seen on a hilltop. Vayots Dzor is known for its very hot summers and cold winters, making its steep mountain slopes a tough environment for plants to grow, giving an impression of a dry, arid desert. However, on closer inspection, there are a wide variety of colourful flowers and bushes. In the lower, more humid areas, species of reed and calamus are common, as are juniper and several types of wild pear. In these areas there are many flowers, including ascension, dark violet tulips, yellow bellflowers, as well as flowering plants such as briers and roses. There is a rich variety of herbs from which locals brew teas, such as felty germander, salvia, chamomile, raspberry and Helichrysum. The region’s most impressive animals are the rock climbing Bezoar goat and mouflon. These endangered animals, endemic to the area, can be seen around this gorge, the Khosrov Reserve, and the Zangezur Mountain Range, and are included in wildlife preservation strategies by the government. There are also wild boars, grey wolves, red haired foxes, wild rabbits, jerboas, and rarely, bears. There are also reptiles here such as green lizards, frogs, and snakes such as water snakes and vipers.