HOVHANES TUMANYAN’S HOUSE-MUSEUM IN TBILISI
After Georgia gained independence from the Soviet Union, the Armenian community of Tbilisi lost an important part of its cultural heritage – the house of the great Armenian poet and writer Hovhannes Tumanyan.
However, we later joined the collective efforts of the chairman of the Writers’ Union of Armenia, Levon Ananyan, and former mayor of Gyumri, Vardan Ghukasyan, to restore the house to the community. In 2017, the House of Hovhannes Tumanyan, a scientific and cultural centre, was opened to the public after substantial reconstruction and renovation. The ceremony was attended by clergymen of the Armenian Apostolic Church from the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin, politicians from Armenia and Georgia, guests from Russia, and Tbilisi’s intelligentsia. Today, the House of Hovhannes Tumanyan hosts various scientific and educational events and literary evenings, amongst other things. It also houses a puppet theatre, a museum of cultural heritage for Armenians of Georgia, and a library.
The project was an important step in strengthening the identity of the Armenians of Georgia, and preserving their spiritual values.
SURB ASTVATSATSIN CHURCH
Surb Astvatsatsin (Saint Mother-of-God) Church in the village of Mushkapat in the Martuni region of Artsakh was built in the 13th century. It was almost destroyed and then completely renovated by Melik Yegan in the 18th century.
Another much-needed renovation was embarked upon in 2015 and completed in 2017.
Under the difficult circumstances of the escalation of military conflict along the Artsakh line of contact in April 2016, comprehensive Church restoration, as well as constructive solutions towards reinstatement of the rotunda of the Church, strengthening of retaining walls and the drainage and outfall system, were conducted. The surrounding area was also handsomely landscaped.
Restoration of this spiritual and religious site in Mushkapat village was yet another undertaking towards the preservation and enhancement of the heritage of historical and cultural values of Armenia, preserving its historical presence and architectural features in the old region, as well as showcasing a successful model for social investment initiatives in the region
SURB THADDEUS MONASTERY
Surb Thaddeus Monastery (Saint Thaddeus Monastery, the believed location of the tomb of the apostle of Jesus Christ, St. Thaddeus, has always been a place of high spiritual value for Christians and other inhabitants in the region. It is one of the most important landmarks of historical Armenian heritage in Iran. The Monastery was universally recognized and added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in July 2008, along with two other monastic ensembles, St. Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor. Although the foundation of the monastery remains obscure, legend has it that a church dedicated to him traces back to the first century AD. Most of its present-day structures date from 1811.
Since the inclusion of the Monastery on the UNESCO World Heritage list, various restoration works have been performed at Saint Thaddeus.
In 2019, the construction and installation of the copper roof of the St. Thaddeus Monastery Complex was carried out. Installation of the roof was completed to mark the 65th Pilgrimage to Saint Thaddeus Monastery, and raise awareness of Armenian cultural and historical landmarks.
The Monastery attracts huge visitor flows of both Armenian and non-Armenian origin as it is a unique pilgrimage destination for Christians from all around the world.
Supporting the initiative of the Government of Artsakh, we commenced a program of the Upper Mosque restoration in 2014. The project was carried out as part of the Artsakh development program.
Gohar Agha (c. 1790–1888) was the daughter of a Georgian prince and one of the four official wives of Ibrahim Khan Javanshir. She never had children and spent her life supporting the town and its inhabitants. Gohar Agha twice initiated the renovation of the two main mosques in Shushi herself. She also sponsored the renovation of a hospital located in the yard of the mosque to treat sick travelers. The town’s poor and deprived were given equal rights to receive treatment at the hospital. Madrasa students were allotted lamps and meals twice a week. She would listen to the requests of poor residents of the town and support the most knowledgeable and distinguished of them. Under the cover of night, she would go door to door to distribute money to the poor requesting their secrecy.
After completing geological and geodesic studies, archaeological excavations and preliminary calculations, the reconstruction of the mosque began. The preservation of the historical exterior of the mosque was part of the program. The works also included the restoration of the madrasa (seminary) building, as well as improvements to the area adjacent to the mosque.
Keeping in mind best international practices and standards, the project involved both local and international organizations. Along with an existing partnership with the Artsakh Ministry of Culture, the project also partnered with the Iranian “Part Saman Jahan” architectural bureau; the “TFA-Armenia” architectural bureau; ICOMOS-Armenia; professor of the Politecnico di Milano, Lorenzo Jurina; the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Yerevan State University; as well as the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization. The latter provided significant support in inviting twelve specialists with major experience in brickwork construction, as well as the restoration of Islamic spiritual sites, to participate in the mosque renovation efforts.
Restoration works in the area of the Upper Mosque in Shushi were completed in 2019.
The archaeological surveys undertaken in the Upper Mosque before the start of the restoration works revealed an early medieval mausoleum and the foundations of some other structures, which will be subjected to further academic research.
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