The main type of traditional Armenian dwelling is called “glkhatun”, a square on-ground or in-ground construction without windows, with wild stone walls and pyramidal covering.  In warm regions the living and utility rooms were build apart from each other, and in colder regions they were built under one roof.  The “glkhatun” was lighted through the chimney.  Inside the dwelling were in-ground stoves (tonirs) and wall fireplaces (bukhari).  The “glkhatun” shape is very widespread in Armenia and is used by architects in construction of religious buildings, particularly church side-chapels.

In the end of the 19th century people in villages started building constructions that looked like the urban ones.  They started using tile as roof material.  The roof shape became two-slope of four-slope. 

By the middle of the 20th century two-storey rectangular or square multi-apartment houses from tuff, concrete or wild stone blocks prevail in Armenia.  Slate or tin is now used for roofing.  Open or closed patios are added on to buildings.

Today, settlements more often acquire contemporary street planning with adjoining gardens and farmlands.

"Melancholy" by Yervand Kochar
Inside Geghard Monastery
Republic Square in Yerevan

There are great many architectural monuments in Armenia. In order to list and describe all of them, a whole book will be needed. Each architectural monument in this country is unique: fortresses, temples, churches, monasteries, fountains, bridges, squares. In this section will only address a few of them.

Tatev Monastery is considered one of the most beautiful architectural monuments of Armenia. The central temple of the monastery – Surb Poghos-Petros was built in 895-906 A.D. It represents a domed basilica, supplemented by new elements. The smooth exterior walls are decorated by images of human faces and snake heads, which are considered guardians of Armenians’ dwellings. A unique engineering masterpiece is Gavazan, preserved in the monastery. It is a more than 8-meter pillar made of several stones. Due to the precise gravity center calculation, it has an amazing peculiarity: it returns to its initial position even if bended. Gavazan is crowned with a curved ornament. 

Tatev Monastery
Khachkar and Church

Khachkar is one of the most widespread architectural elements in Armenia.  It is a flat, vertically positioned stone block with a curved stone on the western side. Inscriptions were usually made on the khachkars.  In their form and construction khachkars go back to hoar stones of the epoch of Urartu State and pagan Armenia.  Famous masters, creators of khachkars are Timot and Mkhitar, Momik and Vardan, Arakel and Melikset.

One of the most popular architectural compositions of Yerevan is the so called Cascade - another masterpiece of Alexander Tamanyan, famous Armenian architectIt is a system of fountains, flower beds and step junctions, than connects the Northern and the Central parts of the city.   The absolute height difference between the first and the last steps is 100 meters, and the length and width of the construction is 500 and 50 meters accordingly.  Escalators of the Cascade allow rising to the main observation platform of Yerevan.

You can learn more about the characteristics of Armenian architecture by visiting the National Architecture Museum in Yerevan.

Statue of Alexander Tamanyan
Northern Avenue
Statue of Arno Babajanyan