Originally made from three churches, the monastery was built on an island. Receding waters in the mid-twentieth century created the current peninsula. The island was uninhabited until the end of the eighth century A.D., when monks built a chapel and a group of cells. The monastery was founded in 874 by King Ashot I, the first king of the Bagratid kingdom, and his daughter Mariam. Two churches remain, St. Arakelots and Astvatsatsin.
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