Complex of Khudavang monastery called “Temple of God”
By | Fuad Huseynzadeh (FuadAZE), The Chairman of Support of Journalists for the Diaspora Activities Public Union
Republished on March 10, 2021
Image credit: The images enclosed were created by the team of AzerTac News and were included with the author’s original report. They are shared here courtesy of the author for fair use purposes.
The scientists who investigated architectural monuments of Caucasian Albania stated that these monuments are quite different from Armenian religious architectural monuments according to their architecture planning styles and most characteristic features. Those monuments belong to the national cultural heritage of our nation based on all historical facts.
Throughout the long history of Azerbaijan, many nationalities and ethnic groups with various religious beliefs have lived together in peace and harmony. Therefore, the country can proudly be called a land of religious tolerance.
In Azerbaijan, one can find mosques, churches, and synagogues which are dated hundreds of years back in time. These religious houses are preserved and restored as they symbolize the co-existence of all the various religious beliefs who till today has not recorded a single conflict between any of the major main three groups of believers.
One of the great examples of Azerbaijani Albanian architecture is located in the town of Lachin, Kelbajar, Khudavang monastery (INV No. 11). This ancient Albanian temple, located 29 km of Kelbajar district, below Baglipeya village on Agdara-Kelbajar highway, was built in the VI-VII centuries. The early construction of the temple was discovered as a result of the study of pottery discovered during the excavations here. The next period’s temple was repaired several times and additions were made to it, and finally, major restoration work was carried out in the temple by Prince Hasan Jalal (1215-1261) of the cross. According to some reports, Hasan Jalal’s wife Mina Khatun was buried here.
On April 2nd, 1993, Kelbajar was occupied by the Armenian armed forces. What makes Kelbajar special is its richness of minerals, gold, mercury, and precious materials. During the occupation, Armenian researchers tried to present the Albanian Khudavang monastery as a monument to Armenians. On November 25th, 2020, Kelbajar was liberated from occupation.
The monastery called “The Temple of God”, Khudavang is located on the left bank of the river Tartar. Kalbajar is known as one of the religious centers of the Khacin Alban principality in the mountainous part of Karabakh. During history, there was the residence of an Albanian bishop and worked religious education center in the complex. As a result of archaeological studies, it is confirmed that the monastery was founded in the VI-VII centuries.
Prince Hassan Jalal, the son of the dynasty Mehranies Cross Vakhtang and Arzu Khatun built this church in the territory of the complex in memory of her husband Vakhtang in 1214. Prince Vakhtang’s image was engraved on the stone in the eastern facade of the church, while the imagines of the two sons of Arzu were engraved on the southern facade. The cathedral built by the Albanian prince is distinguished from the Armenian and Georgian churches according to its architectural features. The scientists who investigated architectural monuments of Caucasian Albania stated that these monuments are quite different from Armenian religious architectural monuments according to their architecture planning styles and most characteristic features. Those monuments belong to the national cultural heritage of Azerbaijan based on all historical facts.
In general, the complex includes nine buildings: 1. Ancient church; 2. The Basilica of the Holy Virgin Mary of the little one; 3. Dream Wife Temple; 4. Hasan Jalal temple; 5. Temple of the Holy Gricoris; 6. Hall attached to the temple of Arzu Khatun; 7. Belltower; 8. School building; 9. Gallery.
During the construction of the buildings, mainly local black basalt stone, baked brick, and lime solution were used. And the roofs are covered with tiles and neatly cut stones. Interestingly, wood material was used in the construction of buildings built as a dome. Window hollows are also available in temple buildings.
On the walls of the buildings included in the monastery, numerous paintings and inscriptions painted with oil paint were engraved. The surrounding area of the complex is surrounded by solid walls, as in other Albanian monasteries. The desire to enter the Church of Khatun is distinguished by its monumentality. Built in the form of a rectangle, there are small rooms on both sides of the church door. In the center of the building, a dome was erected above a large forehead, and the top of the dome was covered with conical drops. The facade of the church is neatly covered with shaved Stone, very fine patterns in the form of embossing and engraving are made on the stones.
When it comes to, in December 2020 members of the Azerbaijani Albanian-Udi Christian religious community have recently visited Khudavang Monastery Complex located in the Kalbajar district liberated from the Armenian occupation after almost 30 years.
AZERTAC correspondents also joined the historic visit to the complex. Thirty years later, the photos depicting the magnificent images of the Khudavang Monastery Complex were first posted on the website of AZERTAC.
During the visit, the Chairman of the Albanian-Udi Christian religious community of Azerbaijan Robert Mobili said that the Khudavang Monastery Complex entirely belonged to the Albanian Apostolic Church, both historically and architecturally.
Professor Gulchohra Mammadova, who studied the architectural features of Khudavang, said that the complex was the largest monastery complex in Azerbaijan. “The complex includes more than a dozen religious and secular buildings of various sizes and designs. An exciting feature of the basilica – one of the oldest buildings of this complex, is the additional building located next to the main altar. These buildings embody unique traditions of temple construction in the architecture of Caucasian Albania,” she added.