Yeghvard & Kaptuan
These two villages in southern Kotayk have churches very similar in style although built of contrasting stone: warm pink in the case of Yeghvard but a rather forbidding grey at Kaputan. Both are dedicated to the Mother of God and are small in floor area but disproportionately tall, having two storeys and being topped not by a tambour with cupola but by a belfry supported by columns. The lower storey of each is more or less square and at Yeghvard the entrance is actually down steps from the present ground level. The upper storey is a cross-shaped church and is highly decorated externally at Yeghvard (as is also I he interior of the church) but not at Kaputan, probably because of the use of basalt which is difficult to carve. Access to the upper storey was by an external cantilevered staircase of which the top steps were stone while the lower were wooden and have now vanished. The only way now into the upper storey is by ladder. The belfry at Yeghvard has 16 columns but there are only eight at Kaputan. Both belfries have a conical cupola. Yeghvard Church is in the middle of the village while Kaputan is on a hilltop above the village. At Yeghvard the bell has now been rehung in the upper church but there is no bell at Kaputan. Yeghvard is the earlier church and dates from 1301 while Kaputan was built in 1349.
Although Yeghvard is in Kotayk province it is probably more conveniently visited from Ashtarak to the west. Taking the main Ashtarak road, the turning to Yeghvard is signposted right just before Ashtarak is reached. It is about 10km from I he junction to Yeghvard. Coming into Yeghvard a stretch of dual carriageway is reached. Keep on round the edge of the town until you see the church on the right above the houses. The upper church is particularly notable for its very fine carved animals: a lion and a bull on the west facade, an ibex on the north, a leopard killing an ibex on the east, and an eagle with a lamb in its talons on the south. Elsewhere in the village are the remains of a (harder-to-find) basilica church of the 5th or 6th century. Turn left, just after a large shop, near to where you turned right for the two-slorey church; and/or ask the way.
To reach Kaputan, leave the main Yerevan to Sevan road at the Abovian turn-off and take the Kotayk road. At Kotayk take the left fork for Kaputan. The road goes on through this treeless upland to circumnavigate the eroded volcanic cone of Mount Hatis (2,529m).
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