April 21, 2015

1532 NAGORNO-KARABAKH - Gandzasar monastery


Laid in 1216 by the prince of Khachen, Hasan Jalal Vahtangian, Gandzasar Monastery stands atop of the mount with the same name, actually a large green hill that rises above the historical town of Vank, in de facto  Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (de jure: Kalbajar Rayon of Azerbaijan). Named so (Gandzasar means in Armenian "treasure mountain") due to ancient copper and silver mines found in the vicinity, it is now the seat of the Archbishop of Artsakh appointed by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and holds relics believed to belong to St. John the Baptist and his father St Zechariah. It is a walled abbey with both ecclesiastical and non-ecclesiastical buildings, the centerpiece of which is the Cathedral of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist), a large church with a cupola in the inscribed cross plan.

First records about the monastery go back to the 10th century. In his encyclical titled On the Rebellion of the House of Aghvank, Anania Mokatsi (r. 946-968), Catholicos of All Armenians, writes that in order to resolve disputes which arose in 949 due to differing interpretations of the Holy Trinity, he "ordered to hold an assembly in the province of Khachen, with the participation of priests and nobility." Gandzasar shared the turbulent history of the Armenian people, and was sacked several times, most notably by Mongol hordes in the beginning of the 13th century, and by the gangs of the Turkic chieftain Ibrahim-Khalil Javanshir in the late 18th century. Most recently it was attacked in 1992, during the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

About the stamps
The first stamp, depicting even Church Gandzasar, was issued on June 6, 1993, and is part of the first series released by Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The second stamp is one of the two of the series Shushi Liberation, issued on May 8, 2012, to comemorate the 20th Anniversary of the eliberation of this city.

References
Gandzasar monastery - Wikipedia
Gandzasar monastery - Gandzasarofficial website

Sender: Sergey Kalantaryan
Sent from Stepanakert (Artsakh / Nagorno-Karabakh), on 01.04.2015
Photo: Sergey Kalantaryan

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