The monastery of Sevanavank rises on Sevan peninsula, which, since the lake’s water level was reduced, became an island. Excavations show that people had been living here since the Stone and Bronze Ages. The island was surrounded with fortress walls of the Bronze Age.
The monastery complex stands on the south-east slope of the peninsula and because of this it can be perfectly seen from the lake and coastal areas. From Sevanavank height opens a wonderful view to lake's blue mirror and to the high mountains closing the horizon.
Sevan Peninsula has been a holy centre since the immemorial times. Here was a pagan altar, which was destroyed, and in its place, in 305 by St. Gregory the Illuminator the church "St. Harutyun" was built. Despite, he built the chapel St.Hovhannes Karapet, dedicated to king Trdat.
According to the legend, after the destruction of pagan shrine, Gregory the Illuminator and king Trdat named the island <<sa e Van>>, which means <<this is a monastery>>. They wanted to say that the pagan temple had turned into a Christian monastery. Maybe from the IV century the island, and then the lake were called Sevan. Before this, the lake was called Gegharkunik sea.
There are another versions about origin of a word Sevan.
Since it was created, Sevan desert was dedicated to the Holy Mother of God and the twelve apostles. After that, for about 400 years, there was no information about Sevan and its spiritual life.
The real flourishing of Sevanavank's spiritual life starts from the XI century, with an effort of Catholicos Mesrop A Eghvardetsi. Daughter of Ashot Bagratuni, Mariam in 874 built on the island the three-nave church of St. Apostles- with a with cruciform dome. In addition, at the island foothill, the church of Holy Mother was built.
At the begining of 10th century Sevanavank was already an impregnable fortress and exactly here in 921 king Ashot II Bagratuni defeated Arabs.
During the earthquake of 995, St. Harutyun and the chapel of St. Karapet were destroyed. Later, on that place the church with the same name was built.
The monastery was also destroyed during Mongol's invasions. Sevanavank revival started in the XV century. In 1451 a school was founded here. The program of school was made up by the philosophers of Tatev University. During the arbitrariness of the Soviet government by the soviet order, Holy Mother of God church was destroyed in 1931. The stones were used to build rest houses in the area of Sevan.
The last monk left Sevanavank in 1930.
Also, the monastery suffered from an earthquake in 1936.
Since 1990 Sevanavank rises and becomes an important spiritual centre of Armenia. Here is a seminary named after Catholicos Vazgen I. Sevanavank was a great spiritual centre. Monks here were busy with reading and reproducing (copying) the Holy Scriptures.
Today, Sevanavank monastery is introduced with 2 churches- St. Apostles and St. Karapet churches, the ruins of St. Apostles' porch,
St. Harutyun's chapel, partially restored monastic cells and a chapel built in 2005 for seminary students.
St. Karapet and St. Apostles churches are currently working churches.
St. Apostles church with the sacristy stands on the south-west. The church is crowned by an octahedral dome.
The church "Holy Mother of God"(St.Astvacacin) had 2 sacristies from the eastern side. From the church's western part, stood a four-domed porch, which was destroyed in 1930s.
The columns were decorated with sculptural capitals, the surviving parts of which are kept in the Historical Museum of Armenia and in the Hermitage.
The little church of St. Karapet is a dome structure with three apses.