Mastara

(St. John)

Niche-buttressed square

Type: Niche-buttressed square plan without columns

Location: Talin

Date: VIth or VIIth century

Evidence For Date:

Important Details:

Condition:

Reconstruction:

History & commentary:
Church of St. John in Mastara, late 6th century, in the Taleen district. A sub-dome square, with apses extending on its four sides, culminates in an imposing dome that governs the whole of the church’s interior. Four large squinches in combination with overhanging arches provide a solid foundation for the huge octahedral drum of the dome. Its architectural conception heralds another stage in the development of simple cruciform compositions, a transition to complex church designs like those in Avan and St Hripsimeh in Etshmiadsin. The works of medieval architecture in Mastara include, among others, numerous khatchkars (cross-stones).

“Mastara - General View”
© 2000 Raffi Kojian, All Rights Reserved
Historical Aragatsotn is rich of valuable monuments. One of them is the church of St. Hovanes in the village of Mastara. It stands out among central-domed cruciform (inside and outside) churches, like the big church in Artik, the church of St. Gregory of Arichian cloister, St. Sarkis in Voskepar and Arakelots in Kars (X c).
Another version of this type is the temple in Bagaran (first half of VII c), in which unlike the temple in Mastara and like Echmiadzin’s temple, four pylons carrying the dome are added to the central praying hall, on account of which a completely different constructive system of the passage to the dome is formed.

In one of five epigraphic inscriptions at Mastara temple, Gregory Vanakan is mentioned as a builder, another one records the repair of the church in 891. Many points of view exist about the dating of the temple (V-VI, VI- VII cc). Some consider if to be built in VII c with the preserved remainders of still existing more ancient church. For various reasons the last version is considered more probable.