Makaravank (X-XIII) complex, located on the slopes of Paytatar mountain near Achajur village,18 km from the city of Ijevan is classified among the most exceptional works of Armenian medieval architecture for its bold, unique architecture and luxurious decorations.
Makaravank’s structures are built from pink, rust-colored red tufa, with occasional greenish stones.The complex consists of 4 churches, a gavit (vestry), outer wall sand residential structures, now in ruins, and impressive arched gates, flanked by columns. Numerous residential structures used to be situated in the enclosed territory.
The history of the main church and its construction is known from a khachkar (cross-stone) found in 1953. The inscription on it, dated 1207, talks of a builder – Vardan, son of Prince Bazaz. The church belongs to domed-hall type of monuments, with rectangular exterior and cruciform interior.
Boundless decorations of the entire complex are considered to be masterpieces of art: unique human-headed mythological creatures, a winged sphinx with a crown on its head, a lion attacking a bull, an eagle clutching a calf in its talons, local flora and fauna, octagons and other symbols adorn inner and outer walls. Perhaps, the most interesting image is of a man, pictured holding tools, with an inscription “Eritasard” (young man); it is thought to be the portrait of the sculptor-decorator of the Main Church.
Standing in the middle of a rich forest, with quiet fields nearby and only one road leading from the village,the Monastery offers a stunning view over the Aghstev and the Kura Rivers. Despite its small size, this isolated spiritual complex is utterly breathtaking and magical.