Makaravank is home to a number of fine carvings © Adrian Chan 

Spectacularly located on the side of Mount Paytatar, this fine monastery is home to one of the country’s most impressive stone carvings. 

Makaravank, on the slopes of Mount Paytatar, is beautifully situated with fine views over the Aghstev Valley and into Azerbaijan. It is well restored and has probably Armenia’s finest carvings. Road improvements have made this splendid monastery more accessible. The oldest church, whose dedicatee is unknown, was probably built in the 10th century. Inside it has beautifully carved window surrounds and an equally beautiful front to the altar dais with floral and linear designs.

However, even this fine carving is wholly overshadowed by the amazing carving of the main Mother of God Church built in 1204 by Vardan, son of Prince Bazaz. The carving here is wonderful. In particular the front of this altar dais is covered with eight-pointed stars separated by octagons in each of which is a different elaborate design: a man in a boat, sphinxes, sirens, birds, floral arrangements and other unusual designs. Outside there is more fine carving; the south façade has a sundial above the main window and a bird below it, while the smaller round windows each have a different intricate design.