The village of Astghadzor in Armenia’s Gegharkunik province does not have a church.
Being founded by 13 households in 1928, the village was deprived of its chapel during the Stalin era.
“Once we had a chapel but it was destroyed with many other churches during the periods of heightened repression,” says Vardges Sedrakyan, an elderly resident of Astghadzor.
He recalls the old days when the chapel was still standing in the village.
“There was a cemetery here. This area was left open for people to enter the chapel freely. All kinds of ceremonies, weddings, baptisms, funeral rites were performed here,” he says.
A sprawling field of khachkars (cross-stones) lies around the Church of St. Gevorg, under the scorching rays of the sun, rainfalls and winds.The founders of the village are buried here. Grandpa Vardges says disbelief did not save their gravestones.
“Look there and you will see broken and crushed khachkars everywhere. People even built a stonewall using the fallen khachkars,” he said.
Vardges Sedrakyan does not hope that the church might be restored in the near future, the community does not have sufficient funds. On the other hand, villagers are not so rich as to be able to help the restoration.
“Someone came one day and said he was ready to reconstruct the church but then he went away saying there was no way to bring construction material to the village. We hope that there will be people who will want to make investments and restore the church,” says the 75-year-old man.
Astghadzor is one of the oldest communities in Gegharkunik. Tombs dating back to the 9th-8th century BC were found in the territory of the village.