Noratus: The Largest Medieval Armenian Cemetery

Exploring the remnants of the medieval Armenia and finest examples of Armenian stonemasonry

Noratus (or Noraduz) is a cemetery that comprises of hundreds (more than 800) of medieval khachkars. Currently, it is the largest cluster of khachkars. This historic site is located in the town of Noratus, only a couple of kilometres away from the coasts of Lake Sevan.

The oldest of the khachkars displayed in open-air at Noratus date back to as early as the 10th century AD. However, a considerable number of these priceless stoneworks were crafted between the 16th-17th centuries, during the revival period of the khachkar tradition.

Khachkars at Noratus

Apart from khachkars, Noratus also beholds some fascinating examples of medieval tombstones, which depict various daily life scenes such as weddings, religious ceremonies, farm life, civil affairs and such.

Today, almost all of the khachkars and medieval tombstones are covered with moss and lichen. However, Noratus is a breathtakingly beautiful site that one should not miss in Armenia.

Old tombstones with carvings on them
An old tombstone with preserved ornaments and cross carvings

Culture Note: Khachkars

khachkar, also known as an Armenian cross-stone, is a carved, memorial stone slab bearing a cross, often with additional ornaments such as rosettes, botanical motifs and complex patterns. Khachkars are considered to be a characteristic of Medieval Christian Armenian art. An interesting fact about khachkars is that every single khachkar has a different design. It is believed that 40,000 khachkars survive today.

Practical Information for Visitors

-Parking in Noratus is free. However, as I experienced seldomly in Armenia, there might be a local asking for a small fee of a couple of hundred Armenian drams.

-Noratus is open every day 24/7. There is no entrance fee.

-Make sure you visit the small chapel that stands amongst the khackars. You will see many pretty religious relics left there as offerings by the staunch Armenian Christians.

Another old tombstone with texts in Armenian

Where is Noratus Cemetery?

Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

I am a 25-year-old Turkish travel & history enthusiast, sharing my travel experiences in Turkey and different parts of the world!

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