"Illegal Tiles at Gandzasar Monastery Will be Removed"

July 17 2011 at 3:16 PM

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Illegal Tiles at Gandzasar Monastery Will be Removed

Sona Avagyan
Hetq, July 15 2011

According the two top officials at the Armenian Association of Restorative Architects of Historical Monuments, the polished facing tiles recently affixed to the walls of the Gandzasar Monastery in Artsakh will be removed.

Installation of the tiles caused an uproar both in Armenia and Artsakh and was the number one issues covered in the pages of the press and on Armenian TV.

Association Vice President Stepan Nalbandyan thanked the Artsakh government's Division of Tourism and Armenia's Ministry of Culture for intervening in the matter and putting a halt to the wall re-facing.

Mr. Nalbandyan said that care must be taken when removing the tiles and the walls must eventually be reinforced in an appropriate manner.

Association President Gagik Soghomonyan noted that merely resurfacing a decaying wall made no sense and that, in any event, professional restoration demands that the same materials be used as in the original construction.

As to the intentions of Levon Hayrapetyan, the Russian-Armenian businessman who conceived the project to retile the monastery walls, Mr. Nalbandyan said that no overall plan was presented to the Artsakh government.

Oftentimes, benefactors think 'what's the harm in repairing something located in a village', Mr. Nalbandyan noted.

Mr. Soghomonyan said that according to their information the contractors never consulted with the Architectural Council in Etchmiadzin and was surprised that Artsakh Primate Barkev Martirosyan never advised them to consult with the Council.

"This was a major oversight. Had the contractors done so, the Council would have advised them regarding the proper process to follow," noted Mr. Soghomonyan.

It turns out that the work was begun without the proper authorization. It took the Artsakh Division of Tourism, in cooperation with the RA Culture Ministry, to declare that the work was inappropriate and needed to be halted.

"The crux of the protests being raised was that the work was illegal. We are trying to build a state and every benefactor, with a degree of self-respect, must follow the rules and regulations that exist. They have to seek out the experts in this field before doing anything. They just can't make decisions on their own," noted Gagik Soghomonyan.

According to reports appearing on the internet, Levon Hayrapetyan had planned to spend $1.5 million on the retiling of Gandzasar's walls.

Gagik Soghomonyan, who drafted a renovation project for the entire monastery in 1989 for the Soviet Union's Ministry of Culture, says that according to his draft the reinforcing of the walls could be done for five times less.

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