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Kobayr Monastery

The monastery was built in 1171 by Princess Mariam, the daughter of Prince Kyurike B. Kyurikyan, in the place where one of the most ancient shrines of the region was located. Even though none of the structures of the monastery were preserved intact, the monastery doesn't stop to delight and impress.

The monastery of Kobayr is situated in the region of Lori, in Kobayr village. The name "Kobayr" comes from the Georgian word ''kob'' and the Armenian word ''ayr'' that means ''cave''. Perhaps the name is associated with caves in the rocks that surround the monastery. The consonance of the monastery with the surrounding nature is impressive. Due to the steep and unusual location, the monastery complex has an inaccessible view. All structures and their architecture are adapted to difficult terrain.

At the end of the XII and the beginning of the XIII centuries, began the expansion of Kobayr. The monastery passed from the Kyurikyans to the princely house of Zakaryans. At this time, the main church, the chapel-sacristy, the refectory, the belfry-tomb, and fortifications were being built. In the Middle Ages, the monastery was one of the spiritual, cultural and educational centres of northern Armenia. A little information was preserved about the activities and history of the monastery in the XIV-XVI centuries. Only from separate notes on tombstones, we can say that here were buried representatives of the princely family. In the manuscript of the XVII century, Kobayr is mentioned as a desert, and already in the XVIII century, as an active church.

 In the XIII century, the monastery became Chalcedonian, but in the XV-XVI centuries it passed back to the Armenian Church.
The monastery consists of three churches, the belfry-tomb, refectory, chapels, khachkars, and the wall remnants. In the rocks bordering the monastery, there are inaccessible caves and shelters. Kobayr monastery is one of those few places where Armenian medieval frescoes have been preserved. They decorate the large church, the chapel-sacristy, the belfry.

The large church of Katoghike was built in the XII century. The placing at the base of the main church is characterized by cyclopean buildings, where the upper layer turns into a flat platform on which the church stands. This is a single-nave gallery. Now it is half-destroyed. The church is especially valuable due to the preserved frescoes. They are made in three rows: at the top is depicted the Mother of God and the archangels, in the centre- “Communion”, and in the bottom- the saints. On the walls of the altar, there are depicted prophets.

Mariamashen church, the oldest survived structure of the monastery, stands on the edge of a cliff, west to Katoghike. This is the very church that was built in 1171 by the daughter of Prince Kyurike B. Kyurikyan- Mariam.

North to Katoghiki, in the centre of the monastery complex stands the belfry-tomb. According to the Georgian inscription (at the times of Chalcedonian influence), preserved on the southern wall, the bell tower was built in 1279. West to the belfry, stands the refectory of the XIII century. It is a rectangular hall, from which only the walls and part of the arched roof have been preserved.

One of the largest caves is situated on the way to the monastery. From here flows a mountain spring, that once provided water to different parts of the monastery. Ancient caves in the Christian era were used as cells. North to the refectory, there are the ruins of another church- a single-nave church of the XII century with an arched roof. The arched chapel was built next to the church.
At different times, those who provided financial or material help to the monastery carved out khachkars on the walls of the monastery, which were called khachkars donations.

And if you go along an incredibly beautiful mountain path from Kobayr, you can get to another ancient monastery, conveniently located in the rocks- to the monastery of Horomayr.