I am infinitely pleased to express my appreciation to Mr. Samvel Karapetian, who had undertaken this task with really apostolic commitment and profound understanding of the power of history, who had been dreaming of getting there, had gone there, wondered there, measured and documented over a thousand of Armenian monuments. Monasteries, churches, khachkars, inscriptions and residentials were documented and published in numerous articles and several volumes, and thus saved from oblivion and apostasy. After this rewarding work Samvel Karapetian undertook a new, and actually exceptional volume of the "Armenian Cultural Monuments" by which over 1600 Armenian monuments will be ever saved from oblivion, destructive pace of time, work of the elements or premeditated destruction and damage. The land described by Samvel Karapetian is historical Armenia, part of the historical provinces of Artsakh, Utik and Paytakaran, Syunik and Vaspurakan, once Armenian land, Armenian world. And even if the people are silent and try to renounce the history of this sacred land, thousands of the stones of this book will cry out and say that Armenians had been living there, Armenians had been creating there, given breadth to the stones, given tongue to the stones...

On June 1977 I had an opportunity of visiting West Armenia - the land of my ancestors. I was in Cilicia, in the land of Sasoon, I was in Vaspurakan, and Ani. I had many reasons to pray, to cry, to rebel, to complain and protest. But above all was suffering. There were no graves. Turkey that invaded our land has not only dismantled, ruined and broken our houses, villages and towns, our temples and educational centres, but also, as if by premeditation or deliberation totally swept our graves. Our ancestors have no graves there, our fathers have no remembrance there, no inscriptions, no history.

That is why it is a miracle to me that Samvel Karapetian has succeeded in saving the remindings of our history, and as a result, the Armenians all over the world can recognize the "brave and manly lords of the Armenian history" (an inscription in Nakhichevan of 1387) of Vaykunik, or the land of Tzar, Upper Khachen, Handaberd, Igadzor, Desert of Tsraget, Aghahejk...

This volume knits the lace of glory to those who liberated Dadi Vank on March 30, 1993, and those who shed their blood and perished while liberating Kalbajar on April 3, 1993 and those who ensured other victories of the Karabagh Liberation Movement thus returning us - the Armenians of Armenia and Diaspora our dignity, honor and pride.

I am grateful to RAA organization and its dedicated Chairman Dr. Armen Haghnazarian and other contributors to the publication of this volume of Mr. Samvel Karapetian - Haik and Naira Torossian, Armen Mnatsakanian, Alec Poghossian and Vahagn Torchian. Alongside with them, I would like you to join me in thanking RAA USA, whose generous support enabled the publication of this beautiful volume.

I pray for the success of this book. God bless you.
Mesrop Archbishop Ashjian

Toros Toramanian laid the foundation of researches in classical Armenian architecture, which were interrupted by the World War I.
Architectural culture, the destruction of which is continuing up to the present and is not limited by the territory of Turkey only, has also fallen the victim of the great Genocide...
Liberation of the areas recognized as Karvajar and adjoining territories provided the RAA organization a unique opportunity of research, which was conducted by Samvel Karapetian.
Samvel Karapetian was there promptly, since the spring, 1993, when the hostilities were still going on, with the fire and smoke visible in the distance. He was there to take photos and make measurements, and copy the Armenian inscriptions of the churches. He went when the snow melted and stayed until the late autumn and the first snow, sometimes with his associates, but more often - alone, with sacred devotion and consistency, under heavy, sometimes dangerous conditions, ranging, searching and finding whatever he had been looking for - be it a monastery, hidden in the shade of a canyon, or a watch-tower, guarding the vicinity from its nest on top the rocks, chapels in the forest edges or arched bridges, churches and springs amid the villages, with the Life-trees on their fronts, and khachkars, numerous khachkars... Presently, pages of the book as if list on their own, confining the glance. They speak, they complain, they protest, they lament, sometimes even smile through their images. This book is a walk in the heavenly garden of Armenian architecture. It introduces numerous buildings, which were mainly unknown to us, high watersheds and innumerable eternal flowing streams, forests on the mountain slopes, velvety pastures and soft plough land. And alongside with all of this are the monuments in their peaceful undisturbed glory, an alliance, a harmony of nature and architecture.
Parallel to the assemblage of the architectural data Samvel Karapetian investigated the history of the monuments ranging from the early Christian period to the present day. Structures, which were first of all the function, and then light. The light is a key to Armenian architecture, with its simplicity and harmony, where one could see the Armenians' idea of the beautiful and their talent to express it. There is will and wisdom in these buildings.
Nomadic tribes residing in this region during the past two centuries used the churches and monasteries either as quarries for ready building material, or in the best case, as warehouses.
The people, that could spread some light on the history of the past centuries are gone long ago, but there are live witnesses - over 1700 structures, left by them and their ancestors.
This unprecedented investigation of Samvel Karapetian is like a return back home of the Armenian monuments, cemented with mortar mixed on love and suffering, and, which is most important, on the belief in the God's truth.
The architectural research of the liberated areas comes to fill a large scientific gap. At the same time to those who look, but do not want to see hundreds of historical monuments come to prove their indisputable Armenian provenance.

Dr.Armen Haghnazarian
Chairman and Founder of RAA


In the course of historical events once vast area of Armenian habitation was constantly shrinking. Due to the World War I and the events of the next few years this process went on unprecedented scale. As a result the major part of Armenia was annexed to Turkey, and minor provinces - still under the Turkish pressure were joined to the newly established Republic of Azerbaijan, while the Republic of Armenia inherited only the tenth part of its former historical territories. Thus, in 1920 about 30,000 sq. m (exceeding the territory of the present-day Republic of Armenia) were annexed to the Soviet Azerbaijan. Later, certain areas, still inhabited by Armenians, were included into the Autonomous Region of Nagorno (Mountainous)-Karabakh (in 1923) and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhijevan (1924). As a matter of fact, 2 of the 15 provinces of Metz Haik (Greater Armenia) - namely the whole Artsakh and Utik, and separate parts of Syunik and Vaspurakan occurred under the Azerbaijanian control. Within a few decades the main Armenian population of these territories was slowly and deliberately expelled (as, for example, in the Autonomous Republic of Nakhijevan), and those who still remained were forcibly displaced in 1988-89 (as the entire population of about 50 villages and towns of North Artsakh). As a result, the former Armenian territories annexed to Azerbaijan shrunk considerably, insulating and isolating the Armenians mainly within the borders of the present Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Gardmank (North Artsakh). As a result of such territorial losses, boundary delineation and later – administrative division of Azerbaijan countless pieces of culture, sanctuaries and shrines worshiped over the centuries and sacred for Armenians, were left under the foreign rule. Nevertheless being still dissatisfied with the results achieved in 1989-1990 Azerbaijan unbound a real war against Karabakh. In this really dramatic situation, being cut off Armenia, having nowhere to withdraw and no other means to protect their life and the right to live in their homeland the Armenians also took to arms. During the six following years of national liberation war the Armenians liberated and retained their historical homeland. Access to the former Armenian villages and towns, monasteries and churches, fortresses and bridges, cemeteries and khachkars (cross stones) was finally gained and the monuments unknown to the scientific world because of the willful administrative restrictions and obstruction imposed by the Azerbaijanian authorities, were open for research. The historical landmarks of the present day Nagorno-Karabakh Republic were more or less familiar by virtue of a number of publications, while the vast majority of the Armenian cultural monuments situated in the adjoining regions (currently under Armenian control) still remained obscure. The present work is called to fill this obvious gap. We should also mention that up to 1988-1989 the area of former Armenian habitation included much more administrative districts of Azerbaijan (particularly, Ghazakh, Shamkhor, Touz, Getabek, Dashkesan, Khanlar, Goran districts in North Artsakh; and Norashen, Nakhijevan, Shahbuz, Julfa and Ordubad districts in Autonomous Republic of Nakijevan) than those eleven regions reflected in this research. Numerous monuments of Armenian history and architecture still remain undocumented (particularly, in Ghazakh, Shamkhor, Touz, Getabek, Dashkesan, Khanlar, Goran districts, Northern Artsakh; or Norashen, Nakhijevan, Shahbooz, Julfa and Ordubad districts, Autonomous Republic of Nakijevan). The RAA organization has provided for the complete investigation of these cultural monuments in its forthcoming issues. The present research is based on data assembled by the scientific expeditions, comprising Hayk Assatrian (1984-85), Volodya Haroutyunian (1987), Vahagn Karapetian (1993) Hayk and Naira Torossians (1993-94), Armen Mnatsakanian (1994-95), Alec Poghossian (1995) and Vahagn Tashchian (1996) whose role may hardly be underestimated and I am extremely grateful for their kind assistance in this research. Certain parts of this work were already published in the periodicals. Scientific popular version of this book was published in the daily “Republic of Armenia” (issues NN 183-191, 193-200, 218-227, 242, 244-251 for 1997, and NN 12-15, 30-34 for 1998). Special thanks to RAA USA, for their valuable assistance in the publication of this volume.