HAGHBAT / Xth-Xlllth centuries
Once again in the region of Lori not far from the village of Ha?bat, this monastic complex begun soon after Sanahin became together with it one of the most important cultural and religious centers of Armenia. It was defended from below by a fortress (the castle of Kayan) and subsequently by a fortified polygonal wall with towers in the four corners which was rebuilt several times.
One of the main characteristics of the complex which consists of four churches, two gavits, a library, a bell-tower and a refectory is the compact mass of the central group of buildings firmly set in the ground by means of solid foundations.
The most ancient structure is the church of St. Nshan («Holy Cross») begun by queen Khosrovanuysh in 976 and completed in 991 according to the inscription carved on the drum. The church which belongs to the domed hall type (rectangular plan with inscribed cross) is traditionally attributed to the architect Trdat who planned the cathedrals of Ani and Argina and reconstructed the dome of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople after the earthquake of 989.
A large gavit stands in front of St. Nshan. Begun in 1208 on the ruins of a previous gavit, this structure is unusual because of its size (21 x 18 m.) and because of its system of roofing with double crossed arches. Two chapels adjoin the gavit: on the south-western side St. Gregory (1025), which has a rectangular plan with an inscribed cross and a barrel vault and on the northern side the chapel of the Mother of God (Xlllth century) with a similar inscribed cross plan and a dome on a drum.
The Xlth century library is totally sunk in the ground, it is roofed over by crossed arches which were reconstructed in 1273. In the interior the great Khach'k'ar is particularly noteworthy. To the left stands the gavit of Hamazasp (1245) with an adjacent chapel.
In an isolated position above stands the three-storied bell-tower. Rectangular on the ground floor its plan becomes octagonal on the first floor with previous stalactite links.
To the north-west, the Xlllth century refectory is composed of two square rooms covered over with crossed arches. Finally, to the left of the gavit of Hamazasp one should note the tomb of the Uk'anants' family with two splendid Khach'k'ars.
Some 500 meters above the complex, in the center of a cemetery stands a hermitage dedicated to the Virgin. It is cruciform with a dome on an octagonal drum decorated with small trilobated arcades.