St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist's), monastery of Bagavan
Բագավանի Սուրբ Հովհաննես Մկրտչի վանք վանք
Shown within Turkey
Basic information
Location Turkey Turkey
Geographic coordinates 39°37′23″N 43°31′31″E / 39.6231°N 43.5252°E / 39.6231; 43.5252Coordinates: 39°37′23″N 43°31′31″E / 39.6231°N 43.5252°E / 39.6231; 43.5252
Affiliation Armenian Apostolic Church
Province Ağrı Province
Region Armenian highland
Status Ceased functioning as a monastery in 1915
Heritage designation None
Architectural description
Architectural style Armenian
Completed 314 A.D.

Bagavan was an ancient Armenian church-city complex situated in the south-east of what is now Ağrı Province, in eastern Turkey. It was a well-known settlement in the pagan and later medieval Armenia times because of a huge monastic complex in it known as St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist) Monastery of Bagavan (Armenian: Բագավանի Սուրբ Հովհաննես Մկրտչի վանք).


The name Bagavan (Armenian: Բագավան) consists of the words Bagi, meaning idol, and avan, meaning city.


Bagavan was situated in the south east of Bagrevand province of the Historical Armenia's Ayrarat region. Founded in the pagan Armenia as a religious center, it was the site of tombs of the pre-Christian rulers of Armenia. Here, in the waters of Aratsani (Eastern Euphrates) river in 314, the baptism of King Tiridates III of Armenia by Gregory Illuminator (Armenian: Գրիգոր Լուսավորիչ) took place, becoming the first Christian King of Armenia, which marked the start of a Christian medieval Kingdom of Armenia. The Armenian Apostolic Church as a separate independent Christian denomination emerged later.

After that, this place was marked by a huge number of crosses engraved in the riverside rocks and pagan temples were reconstructed as monasteries. In the nearby slopes of mount Npat dozen of chapels stood, praying places of famous Catholics Nerses the Great (second half of the 4th century). Therefrom he watched Dzirav's battle between the Armenians and Persians. The monastery has three churches, and their most famous bishops were Yeznik Koghbatsi and Movses Khorenatsi. Under whose leadership it became the main monastery in the Bagrevand and Arsharunik districts. Final phase of construction ended in 639.

During Russo-Persian wars from 1877–78 it was damaged, but after a period of repairs, it remained functioning until Armenian Genocide in 1915. In the late 1940s the monastery was also known in Turkish as Üç Kilise ("Three Churches"). It was completely destroyed by the Turkish Army, along with 4,000 other Armenian monasteries in eastern half of today's Turkey.


The church is 46 meters in length, 27 meters in width and 20 meters in height (with dimensions comparable to the Armenian Apostolic churches of Dvin, Zvartnots and Talin). The outward appearance of the temple is made of strict shaped masonries and ornaments, a contrast to the well brightened interior. People of 19th century associated the monastery's appearance with the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (now Istanbul). The monastery had 5 doors and 51 windows.

Current condition

This monastery was destroyed to foundation by Turks in the late 1940s. Part of its stones were used in the construction of houses in Taşteker village that was founded around the monastery, but most of them were removed to the town of Ağrı, where they were laid in the lower stonework of the principal mosque erected in 1950.

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