: Drazark
: Turkey
: Cilicia, South-Central Turkey
: 37°39'28" N, 35° 41' 41" E
: Armenian

Drazark / Trazarg [Turk: Kıbrıslarevokes memories of some of the high points of the religious and artistic accomplishments of the Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia. Located in the cradle of the Rupenid (Rubenid) baronial holdings that preceded the emergence of the Kingdom, a short distance north of Sis, in the modern village of Kıbrıslar, the history of this monastic complex, which included a famous scriptorium and churches, is closely linked with the ruling nobility and leading figures of the Armenian Church in Cilicia. While its original construction details are lost, it was reconstructed and enlarged by Baron Toros (T῾oros) I, after a major earthquake wreaked havoc throughout the region in 1114 AD. Additional modifications, likely in the second half of the 13th c., are reflected in architectural elements preserved in the sculpted masonry forming the ogee arch on its south façade. The sponsors of these later modifications are most likely either King Hetʿum (Hetoum) I and his wife Zapēl (Zabel), or their son, King Lewon (Levon) II (1270-89) and his wife Keṙan (Gueran), as both couples’ piety and patronage of the Church and arts are well documented. Along with those four rulers, three of the pre-royalty barons, King Ōšin (Oshin), and no fewer than seven catholicoses of the Armenian Church were buried there.

This two-story structure, which housed a mausoleum on its lower floor and a church on the upper, is built against a hillside. This allows its lower level to be accessed from the south, at the bottom of the slope, while its upper level is reached from a talus, built along its north side, that connects to the upper slope of the hill. This talus may have supported a narthex (gavit). Unfortunately, the conversion of this church to mosque in the 20th c. and the construction of modern buildings abutting it on the north and south mask many of its architectural details, both inside and outside. However, the most striking elements of this construction escaped complete destruction and are still visible on the west façade: two monumental crosses were sculpted in blocks of stone used in the masonry, forming the most magnificent examples of khatchkars in Cilician Armenia. Unlike the structured program this uniquely Armenian traditional form of cross sculpture followed in Greater Armenia, it appears that its transfer to Cilicia underwent a loosening of guidelines, allowing for an adaptation to the new environment and its needs.

Ref: Drazark, pp. 361-402; Location, pp. 61-84; Kıbrıslar, pp. 80-95; Kilise, pp. 447-448.

: Trazarg, Kıbrıslar, Դրազարկի վանք, Դրազարկ

Site Album Images Description Author Year Cultures
Plans and Cross-Section of the Two-Story Church Mausoleum Building
Jirair Christianian
Color Digital Photographs, 2017
Jirair Christianian