The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a medieval monastery in the village of Sanain, in the present-day city of Alaverdi, in the Armenian SSR.

Sanain Monastery was one of the major medieval cultural centers of northern Armenia. The complex included a scriptorium, a library, and an academy. The monastery had extensive landholdings. In the tenth through 13th centuries the number of monks at the monastery totaled between 300 and 500; they included scholars and cultural figures.

Although the construction of the monastery extended over several centuries, the complex forms a unified, harmonious whole. The main group of structures includes the cruciform-domed Astvatsatsin Church (c. 934) and Amenaprkich Church (957–962). The latter—the monastery’s main church—has sculptures of the church fathers on the eastern facade and the remains of murals in the apse. Between the two churches is a vaulted and galleried school (late tenth and early 11th centuries). On the western side of the churches are attached gavits (church foyers): there is a four-pillared gavit (1185) with a ceiling of arches and vaults and a triple-aisle gavit (1211) with a vaulted covering. The monastery also includes a tiered bell tower (mid-13th century), a library (1063, with its original eight-sided cupola), and the round cruciform-domed Chapel of St. Gregory (before 1061). Near the main group of buildings are situated a number of other structures, including the tomb of the Zakharid and Agrutin-Dolgoruki princes (1189), the Sarkis Chapel, and the Karapet Church. Over the Debet River there is a single-arch bridge, dating from the late 12th century.


Khalpakhch’ian, O. Kh. Sanain. Moscow, 1973.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.