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Saghmosavank monastery

The monastery was, like Hovhannavank, built by Prince Vache Vachutian. Not surprisingly the two monasteries have many similarities, not least in their situation on the rim of the gorge and in the stone used in their construction, although the architectural details are quite different. The oldest part of Saghmosavank ('Monastery of Psalms') is the Zion Church of 1215 with its round tambour and conical cupola. Inside there are frescoes on the arch over the apse and carved angels over the sanctuary. The smaller Mother of God Church to the south was built in 1235 and was followed by the large gavit which has an impressive entrance doorway similar to those found at the entrance to mosques. Whether this simply reflects the previous experience of the architect or had some other significance is not clear. The layout of the existing buildings required the library to be L-shaped when it was added in 1255; there is a fresco of St Gregory over the door to the Mother of God Church. Unfortunately this door is usually locked as the church is, according to the caretaker, 'only a store room'. As at Hovhannavank, a fortified wall surrounds the complex: the local goats enjoy standing on top of this one to keep an eye on the tourists.

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