Armenian architecture is the architecture native to Armenia. [Vazken Lawrence Parsegian, 1996] Classical Armenian architecture is largely inspired by Greek and Roman architecture.
Characteristics of Armenian Architecture
Traditional Armenian architecture, and Armenian Churches in particular, shares several distinctive features, believed by some to be the first national style of church building [http://armenianstudies.csufresno.edu/arts_of_armenia/architecture.htm Architecture, Arts of Armenia (c) Dr. Dickran Kouymjian , Armenian Studies Program, California State University, Fresno ] ]
*Composed almost entirely of stone, usually volcanic
*A conical or semiconical radially segmented dome or cupola mounted above vaulted ceilings on a cylindrical drum (usually polygonal on the outside, most often octagonal)
compositeroof composed of finely-cut tufa shingles
*Frescos and carvings, if present, are usually ornate and depict swirling intertwining grapevines and foliage.
*Heavy use of tall structural arches, both for supporting the cupola as part of the drum, the vaulted ceiling, and the vertical walls.
*Perpendicular ridged roofs meeting to support the dome, both in basilicas and centrally-planned churches.
Armenian architecture, as it originates in an earthquake-prone region, tends to be built with this hazard in mind. For this reason, Armenian buildings tend to be rather low-slung and thick-walled.
Armenian architecture employs a form of concrete to produce a sturdy buildings, namley a mixture of lime mortar, broken tufa, and rocks around which formed a core around which cut slabs of tufa can be arranged in brickwork fashion. As the wet mortar mixture dried, it formed a strong concrete-like mass the sealed together the tufa around it, and due to tufas properties, it only becomes harder with time. Initially, almost no core was used in the building of Churches, stone blocks where simply sealed together, but as Architects saw how those with mortar cores withstood tremors, the size of the core was expanded. Frescos of marble or another stone were often affixed to the side of these buildings, usually at a later date.
The stone used in buildings is typically quarried all at the same location, in order to give the structure a uniform color. In cases where different color stone are used, they are often intentionally contrasted in a striped or checkerboard pattern. Powder made out of ground stone of the same type was often applied along the joints of the tufa slabs to give buildings a seamless look. Unlike the Romans or Syrians who were building at the same time, Armenians never used wood or brick when building large structures.
History of Armenian Architecture
The gradual development of Armenian architecture.
During the third millennium B.C, prehistoric Armenian architecture was unique. The most common feature of this form of Architecture was its floor plan which was circular and connected forming a cell shape. An example of such architecture can be found in Nakichevan's Gyul-Tepe. These buildings were aproximiatley 6-7 meters wide and 5 or so high.
The inhabitants of
Urartuwere notable for their high standards in city building, palatial complexes, and rich interior decoration. Urban architectural traditions, and other forms of art in the years before Christ continued to develop under the influence of Greco-Roman art. Urartian architecture of was noted for its use of large, carefully-cut stones, used as foundations for wood or mud brick buildings, usually constructed in a compact manner (such as in Erebuni) suggest a high degree of planning and craftsmanship.
The temple of
Garniis the only pagan monument left in Armenia, as many others where destroyed or converted to in Christian places of worship under Tiridates III of Armenia. [Past]
Garni was built along Hellenistic classical lines, but embodies much of the sacred numerology and geometry devised by Ancestral Armenians 4200 years earlier. Garni's design has great symbolism. The temple has a column to inter column ratio of 1/3 (1 is the primary number of the universe and 3 is the holiest of all numbers as it represents the Greco-Roman triad
Jupiter, Junoand Minerva. Aside from being aesthetically beautiful, Garni's design can be seen as being a reaffirmation of the universal laws that governed man's destiny. The angles, number of columns, and dimensions were created with a careful eye; Armenian pagans wanted to appease the gods and protect humanity from their wrath. This sacred geometry is evident in the entire temple. To the people who created it, it was the perfect embodiment of their communion with the universe. Note that although sacred geometry was mostly used in religious buildings, secular buildings adopted some aspects of it. [http://www.tacentral.com/architecture.asp?story_no=2 Sacred Geometry and Armenian Architecture | Armenia Travel, History, Archeology & Ecology | TourArmenia | Travel Guide to Armenia ] ]
The officialisation of
Christianityin 301 made way to new developments in Armenian architecture, which nevertheless preserved older traditions. [http://www.tourismarmenia.net/architecture.html Architecture of Armenia - Tourist Guide: Tourism Armenia ] ] In fact it would be almost impossible to find any religion that rose completely on its own without borrowing some traditions from the past. Exploring Armenian churches is critical to our understanding of Medieval Armenia. Beyond that, the Armenian churches describe us the general landscape of the Christian East at a time when eyewitness accounts were exceedingly rare. In their messages of authenticity and legitimacy, the churches shaped and preserved public memory, negotiating among diverse linguistic, religious, political, and ethnic groups. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0422/is_4_88/ai_n17093711/pg_2 Building churches in Armenia: art at the borders of empire and the edge of the canon | Art Bulletin, The | Find Articles at BNET.com ] ]
Periods in Armenian Architecture
The Formative Period
The first Armenian churches were built between the 4th and
7th Century, beginning when Armenia converted to Christianity, and ending with the Arab invasion of Armenia. The early churches were mostly simple basilicas, but some with side apses. By the fifth century the typical cupola cone in the center had become widely used. By the Seventh century, centrally-planned churches had been built and a more complicated "niched buttress" and radiating "Hrip'simé" style had formed. By the time of the Arab invasion, most of what we now know as classical Armenian architecture had formed.
From the 9th to
11th century, Armenian architecture underwent a revival under the patronage of the BagratidDynasty with a great deal of building done in the area of Lake Van, this included both traditional styles and innovations. The ornately carved Armenian Khachkarswere developed during this time.Armenia, Past and Present; Elisabeth Bauer, Jacob Schmidheiny, Frederick Leist , 1981] Many new cities and churches were built during this time, including a new capital at Lake Vanand a new Cathedral on Akdamar Islandto match. The Cathedral of Aniwas also completed during this dynasty. It wad during this time that the first major monasteries, such as Haghpat and Haritchavank were built. This period was ended by the Seljukinvasion.
From the 12th to
14th centuryunder the Zakariddynasty saw an explosion in the number of monasteries built, including Saghmosavank Monastery, the Akhtala monastery, Kaymaklı Monastery Kecharis Monasteryand Makaravank Monastery. Monasteries were institutes of learning, and much of medieval Armenian literature was written in this time period. The invasion of Timurlaneand the destruction of Cilician Armeniaended architectural progression from another 250 years.
The Last great period in classic Armenian construction was under Iranian Safavid
Shahs, under which number of new Churches were build, usually at existing holy sites such as Etchmiadzinas well as in diaspora communities like New Julfa.
Research on Armenian Architecture
*History of Armenian Architecture:Volume 1
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