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South view of the gavit` (period photograph of 1910 by Ermakov)



As we have seen, the Gandzasar church, with its extremely rich decorations, an abundance of reliefs and its structural originality, holds a rather special place in 12th-13th centuries Armenian architecture. Builders of this period focused most of their attention on exterior architecture, thus, decoration becomes more important. The phenomenon had already started in the 10th-11th centuries (especially at Ani) but reached its culmination in the following two centuries, when the use of polychrome effects began marking a step forward in the new "pictorial" style of architecture. The style flourished not only in Transcaucasia but also in the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. As can be seen, this phenomenon affected countries with different political-administrative structures and different religions. Some believe the phenomenon is related to the development of these countries and emerged from the secular culture of medieval cities (A. Jakobson). And since this style is somewhat intermediate in ecclesiastical architecture, it is within this very sphere that it flourished most.

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The monastery of Gandzasar