Javakhk is rich in historical monuments which belong to various periods and traditions.

The main part of the monuments in Javakhk are Armenian or Armenian-Orthodox. Also many are historical monuments of Georgian and Byzantine cultures.

Below presented are samples of monuments in Javakhk (the list is not complete at the moment) and a survey article by RAA:

Javakhk Monuments >>>
A survey on Historical Monuments of Javakhk >>>



Javakhk Monuments


Surb Nshan

Surb Nshan (Holy Sign) Church is located in the center of Akhaltskha. According to a manuscript of 1619 a church named Surb Nshan existed already in Akhaltskha. The current building is built in 1861-63 by order of  Grigor vadapet Saginian and by financial support of honorary citizen of Akhaltskha Vardan Vadanian, who was buried at the Church in 1887.

In soviet times the Church was closed, and currently the Armenians of Akhaltska try to get back their main Church.



Tmkaberd (Tmbkaberd, Tmbuk Berd or in Georgian sources Tmogvi) is a castle of 11th-18th centuries near Akhalkalak at Kur river. The castle is named after Tmbuk village which still exists at the castle.

Tmkaberd belonged to the Tmogveli-Mkhagrdzeli brunch of the Zakarian Dinasty.


Surb Khach

Surb Khach (Holy Cross) Church in Akhalkalak is located in center of Akhalkalak and is the central cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Javakhk.

The current building of the Church is built in 1856.



Surb Karapet (St. Karapet) Church in Gandza village is built in 1859. This village is renowned as birthplace of the writer Vahan Terian.

Each summer a special festival dedicated to Terian takes place in Gandza. There also is a 19th century bridge in Gandza.



Surb Gevorg (St. George) Church in Kushi village is built in 1867. The well known “Kare Karmunj” near the Church is built in 1870. An older chapel also is preserved in the village.

The village is located at the place where the Khram river begins and has a spectacular view on Javakhk and Trialet ranges.


Khachkars (Cross-Stones)

In Javakhk khachkars are spread all over the province and are preserved mainly in ancient cemeteries, but among them, there are also others, which were fixed into the church walls in a later period.

Some of the best known khachkars of Javakhk are in Akhalkalak, Chamdura, Davnia, Ghulalis, Karsep, Kartikam, Khavet, Khazabavra, Mrakol, Tmkaberd, Turtskh,


A survey on Historical Monuments of Javakhk

A survey article prepared by the book of Samvel Karapetian and Alexandre Kananian, THE HISTORICAL MONUMENTS OF JAVAKHK, Scientific Council of Research on Armenian Architecture (RAA), BOOK V.

Javakhk is a province rich in various centuries-old historical monuments: the numerous unique monuments of the province bear the traces of the influence of Armenian, Georgian and Byzantine cultures.

Archeology: The province is rich in archaeological monuments and the archaeological finds discovered in different periods shed light on the early period of the province history. Nicely decorated pitchers dating back to the second half of the I c. were discovered during the construction of a house in Totkham Village . Early in the 1960s, pieces of statues and other archaeological items were discovered in a ruined mausoleum situated on the territory of the province. Research has revealed that the finds date as far back as the VIII-VI c.c. BC and formed an integral part of the Araratian (Urartu) Kingdom culture.

The bronze astronomical calendar dating back to the I millennium BC and discovered in the settlement of Mokhrabloor (in Georgian Natsargora) is also of great interest.

The archaeological monuments preserved in the territory of the village testify that people have settled in Diliska since ancient times and this is proved by the phallus dating back to the II-I millennia BC and preserved in the sanctuary called “Saint of Gogol”.

Cyclopean Fortresses: Javakhk is rich in cyclopean fortresses, which date as far back as the III-II millennia BC and are comparatively well-preserved. In this regard, the fortresses located in Gandza, Bzavet, Khojabek and Satkha Villages are of great archaeological interest. It should be mentioned that similar monuments can also be found in the Armenian Highlands.

Dragon-Stones : The ancient dragon-obelisks (II-I millennia BC) dedicated to water cult which occur exclusively in the territory of the Armenian Highlands are widely spread. The huge single-piece stone obelisks bearing sculptures of snakes, bulls, rams and other animals, which are located on the banks of rivers, lakes and near the spring sources were discovered in many regions as well as Javakhk.

Medieval Fortresses, Towers Serving as Vantage-Grounds : Akhalkalak, Tmok and Khertvis are known among the fortresses having powerful defense systems. The fortresses built in the X-XI c.c. and reconstructed in a later period possess all the main features of fortress building: semi-circular towers, barracks, castles, underground and cut-in-rock wells, secret passages, etc.

Quadrilateral Obelisks : Early medieval quadrilateral obelisks occur in Historical Armenia. In the territory of the present-day Georgia , these monuments can be found only in the provinces of Gugark Region of Metz Hayk that are now part of this country, and among them is Javakhk. Tens of quadrilateral obelisks created in the IV-VII c.c. preserved in many ancient settlements are mostly displaced from their original places and are in ruins. A great number of pedestals belonging to formerly standing obelisks have also been preserved. The obelisks as well as their pedestals bear the characteristic features of decoration, such as acanthus leaves, grape brunches, sculptures and cross sculptures.

Churches, Monasteries, Chapels : Religious buildings have survived in almost all the settlements and villages. They can be classified into three main groups: Armenian (Apostolic and Armenian Catholic), Georgianized Armenian-Chalcedonian and Georgian Orthodox. The most ancient Apostolic churches (St. Hovhannes of Baralet, the single-nave church in Bzavet, etc.) date as far back as the V-VII c.c. Such buildings were also created during the next centuries until the XIX c. when Armenian Catholic churches were founded in a number of villages in Javakhk. Chronologically, these constructions were preceded by the churches built by the Armenian Chalcedonians, which date back to the IX c. and are considered Georgian belonging to the Georgian Orhtodox Church : Kumurdo of St. Hambardzum (Ascension), St. Stepanos of Ekhtila, St. Khach of Revelation of Khorenia, etc. As for the most ancient purely Georgian religious buildings, they date as far back as the XIII-XIV c.c. (Kotelia, Baralet, Moorjakhet, Varevan, etc.). In the XIX c., new churches were built in many settlements of Javakhk (both Armenian and Georgian) and even a Russian Orhtodox church was founded in Akhalkalak.

There are no churches in Javakhk dating back to the XIV-XV c.c. although a large population adhering to the Armenian Apostolic Church populated the settlements in Javakhk in that period. This fact suggests that beginning from the XIV c. the adherents of the Armenian Apostolic Church did not build any new churches in most cases and simply made use of those ones which had already been founded by their Chalcedonian compatriots. The evident proofs of the aforementioned are St. Hambardzum of Kumurdo, St. Stepanos of Ekhtila and St. Harutiun of Abul around which Armenian cemeteries dating back to the XV-XVI c.c are located.

The number of monasteries is not great in Javakhk and the preserved ones (Ekhtila, Karnet) which date back to the XII-XIV c.c. consist of one or two churches.

A number of small single-nave chapels found in the province are mostly built in elevated places, on the hills and mountain peaks: these are St. Hovhannes of Gandza, St. Lusavorich of Vachian, Jgnavor (Hermit) of Akhalkalak etc.

Cross-Stones: Ever since Christianity was spread in Armenia , monuments symbolizing the perpetuity of the cross have been created in this country. At first, these monuments were quadrilateral obelisks and then were turned in to khachkars (“khatch” meaning cross and “kar” meaning stone), which have been the embodiment of the creative mind of the Armenian being a purely national phenomenon. Khachkars were created all over the territory of Historical Armenia on different occasions, each having its own significance.

In Javakhk, khachkars are spread all over the province and are preserved mainly in ancient cemeteries, but among them, there are also others, which were fixed into the church walls in a later period. One can also find lonely khachkars, which serve as boundaries. There are khachkars belonging to all periods. They have undergone all the stages of development have been created in Armenia since the IX c. A great number of khachkars dating back to the IX-XVIII c.c. have survived, and fortunately, considerable parts of them bear inscriptions while others are dated.

As far as artistic decorations are concerned, the khachkars of Javakhk have mostly simple reliefs and certain peculiar similarities with the cross-stones preserved in the ancient settlements of a number of mountain regions of Armenia . The most frequent symbolic sculptures occurring on khachkars are the grape bunches, the six-wing David star and others. In general, reliefs are rare in the khachkars of Javakhk, unlike those of Karabakh. The same refers to the woven patterns and sculptured edgings. All these khachkars are of great historical significance, since they are monuments of Armenian medieval culture showing that a large Armenian population lived in many settlements of Javakhk Province for decades.

Today, khachkars are still created in Javakhk. They are often placed in the cemeteries of Akhalkalak and a number of other villages. True works of art, they are the carriers of new creative ideas resting upon the traditional basis.

The first reference was made to Javakhk khachkars only in the late XIX c. In the Soviet years, the cross-stones of Tmkaberd and Tzunda were studied by the Georgian researcher L. Davlianidze, while in the 1990s, Armenian scientists made an endeavor to carry out a thorough investigation into the khachkars pres erved in the province.

Interestingly enough, on the territory of the present-day Georgia , only Javakhk has a small group of khachkars (X-XIII c.c.) survived (Bavra, Vachian, Soulda, Khando, Varevan, etc.), which is the heritage of the Georgianized Armenian-Chalcedonians. Despite the fact that these khachkars bear the classical structural features of khachkars in general (among them also Georgian Armenian-lettered inscriptions), these cross-stones are devoid of such elements, which are characteristic of Armenian khachkars: the rosette symbolizing perpetuity, the life tree, the ball-shaped and plant endings of the cross wings, the sculptured edge belts, etc.

Cemeteries: In Javakhk, cemeteries are preserved in the present-day standing villages and settlements as well as near some monasteries. They date back to all the historical periods beginning from the pre-Christian period until now. Apart from the Armenian cemeteries, Georgianized Armenian-Orthodox, Georgian, Turkish, Greek, Jewish and Russian cemeteries are preserved in a number of ancient settlements. The tombstones preserved in these cemeteries are essentially different from each other, both stylistically and structurally. The gravestones surviving in the cemeteries of Apostolic, Orthodox and Catholic Armenians have a considerable number of similar features.

Tombstones: Apart from the wide spread rectangular, cradle-shaped and coffin-shaped gravestones, there are also a great number of church-like, ram-shaped and horse-shaped tombstones in Javakhk which date back to the period covering the early Middle Ages till the XIX c.

Bridges: Despite the fact that rivers abound in Javakhk, almost no medieval bridges have survived in the province. The only known bridges are the multi-span bridge of Ghaurma Village built on the river Parvana in the XIX c. and the two-span bridge of Gandza . The two-span medieval bridge built on the Koor river at the foot of Tmkaberd was of great interest from engineering point of view but only the piers have survived.

Public Buildings and Production Facilities : There are a great number of public buildings in Javakhk. Many housing complexes built in the XIX c. and consisting of a “hipped-roof” glkhatun (a type of hipped roof dwelling in the mountainous regions of Armenia ), tonratun (a building with tonir , a hole in the ground for baking bread), a barn, a cattle-shed and other additional buildings are preserved in many villages. The sculptured, sometimes also inscribed hearthstones symbolizing the welfare of the house are of great interest. The house built in Kumurdo in 1898 by Martiros Agha (Master) Vardanian, which has been preserved intact up to today is a highly skilful architectural construction.

In Javakhk, almost all the settlements had their creameries, while mills were characteristic of those villages that had enough water supply and abatement. Most of these production facilities were destroyed during the Soviet years and only the huge single-piece stones have been preserved. The stone of Satkha creamery (XIX c.) bearing a sculpture of a camel caravan is distinguished by its artistic decoration.

Discover the interesting map showing various monuments across Javakhk: http://www.raa.am/Javaxk/Jav_Hush_Map.htm


Georgian scientists investigated only the Georgian lapidary inscriptions without even making a remote reference to the Armenian ones, while the Armenian researchers confined themselves to the study of the Armenian lapidary inscriptions making only a slight reference to the Georgian Mesropian ones.

Armenian Lapidary Inscriptions : So far, no consistent work has been carried out to assemble, decipher and publish the Armenian lapidary inscriptions of Javakhk. The small group of researchers engaged in this domain (M. Brosset, K. T. Margariants, H. S. Eprikian, Ye. Lalayan, Davlianidze...) has presented the deciphering of merely a few lapidary inscriptions, which do not meet the contemporary standards in this field. The publications presenting insufficient information regarding the XIV-XVI c.c. led some specialists, who had never investigated further into the matter, to jump to conclusions devoid of any scientific grounds. However, the continual field research carried out in the province revealed a large number of Armenian lapidary inscriptions dating as far back as the XI c., a fact that sheds light upon the moot points of the history of Javakhk. The fact that most of the Armenian lapidary inscriptions were discovered on the grave monuments of many settlements shows that a large number of Armenians inhabited the whole province.

Georgian Lapidary Inscriptions : A comparatively greater number of researchers have focused their attention on these inscriptions. However, the majority of these scientists were mainly busy re-publishing the same decipherings instead of completing, verifying, investigating them further and discovering new inscriptions. The Georgian Mesropian inscriptions date back to the period when the majority of the Armenian population of Javakhk became Chalcedonians, i.e. IX c. In the communities of Armenian-Chalcedonians as well as in Javakhk, the official written language was Georgian.

Beginning from the IX c., magnificent pieces of writing were created in Javakhk (as well as in Tayk) which was considered the “outskirts” of the Georgian state. These written monuments were naturally in Georgian, which had been adopted due to religious and political considerations.

Turkish Arabic-Lettered Lapidary Inscriptions : Despite the fact that the Turkish reign lasted for a long time in Javakhk, the number of the Turkish inscriptions is very restricted there, a fact showing that the Turks were not active in the construction field. The inscription of the mosque built in the citadel of Akhalkalak in the XVIII c. and that of the spring located in Erinja Village can be mentioned among the Turkish inscriptions preserved in the province.

Please also visit the RAA page (Research on Armenian Architecture) for detailed information on historical monuments of Javakhk (in Armenain).


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