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Church/Monastery :: Talin Cathedral  
Cathedral of Talin

That Talin is one of the oldest residential areas in the region is confirmed by evidence dated back to the 2nd millennium B.C. (among others bronze swords). During the 2nd century, Talin is mentioned by the Greek geographer Ptolemy, which he calls Talina. Excavations in the vicinity of the Talin Cathedral, near the hill, have revealed ancient building materials as well as receptacles.

The Cathedral of Talin is situated in the southern boundaries of Talin region of the Aragatzotn province. Its construction is ascribed to the Kamsarakan noble house. The Cathedral of Talin (36.7 x 26.7 m in size) is a longitudinal three-aisled church with a dome and three projecting apses on the east, north, and south sides. It was probably commissioned by Prince Nerseh Kamsarakan. Its plan seems to be a synthesis of a cruciform church and the older Armenian domed basilica-type churches and reminds of the Dvin Cathedral (608-615). Each apse is polygonal on the exterior. Entrances are on the north, south and west sides.

Four large piers, linked by arches, define the central square that supported the now collapsed dome. Pendentives make the transition from the square below to the circular drum of the dome above. The east apse has three windows framed on the exterior with a blind arcade. Floral and geometric motifs are carved on the arches which rest on slender double colonnettes. A similar arcade frames the windows of the drum. Other openings are crowned with arches, each with of a band of sculptured ornament. Traces of color remain on the exterior cornices and crowns of the windows. On the southern and northern parts of the front alter, there are two square alters, above which there are two secret chambers. The cathedral has five portico entrances, two in south, two in north and one main entrance in west. In difference to the general simplicity and limited decorations which are the characteristics of Armenian spiritual architecture, the Talin Cathedral is quite decorative and majestic. The exterior is dominated by the diversity of decorations of the windows while the richly interior decoration is witnessed in the carvings on the Pendentives. The stile and motif of the carvings are estimated to be from the same period as those in the Zvartnots Cathedral. The carvings have been painted with white and red colors (preserved in patches).

Remnants of wall paintings corroborate statements of Vrtanes Kertogh in the late sixth or early seventh century (evidence point to the periods 632-640, 652, 658, 698) that Gospel cycles were painted on Armenian Church interiors. Christ's entry into Jerusalem is represented on the south wall. At present, there are only traces of the portraits of the six apostles.

Talin contains the only surviving Armenian example of a wall painting showing Christ in a medallion with busts of the Apostles. The figures surround the apse arch. Portraits of saints stand in pairs between the windows of the apse.

An earthquake destroyed the dome and part of the drum in 1840. Restoration began in 1947, but was not completed. To the west and south of the cathedral, in a large area, are the remnants of 4th-7th century and later necropolis, with large numbers of tombstones depicting persons in national dresses and other illustrations. Some of these tombstones, for preservation, have under the supervision of T. Tormanian, been moved to the Nerseh Kamsarakan's Church (about 150 meters north of the cathedral), which have become a museum. An inscription states that it was built by Prince Nerseh Kamsarakan. It has three apses. The west bay is square and longer than the other three Arms. The entrance is from the west. The marks of seven different masons have been found on the church.

The nearby church of St Astvatzatzin (Mother of God) is one of a series of small, free-standing cruciform churches and was built in 1866 and for which quite large number of decorative parts from the already ruined cathedral is used. The entire area contains a rich presence of historical evidence, among others the remnants of building, which according to T. Tormanian are the ruins of noble residence, probably belonging to the house of Kamsarakan.

Source: Agency for Conservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments, Republic of Armenia; Encyclopedia of the Republic of Armenia