Father Vrtanes Baghalyan, parish priest at the 6th century Odzoun church in Armenia’s Lori Province says that while the company responsible for renovating the famous edifice has done a good job, the removal of rainwater remains a problem.
The Odzoun Church, one of the finest Armenian basilicas with a cupola, overlooks the Debded River gorge.
According to church tradition, the 1st century AD Thomas the Apostle, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, came to Odzoun and ordained priests and bishops.
Levik Ghoughasyan, president of LevGouk Ltd., the company that performed the renovations, told me that the church had been restored to its 19th century appearance and that as few modifications as possible were made.
The renovations were made possible by a benefactor’s gift of 320 million AMD ($779,000). 270 million has already been spent over the 15 year project. Seventeen master craftsmen were brought in to work on the church.
The project has been overseen by Armenia’s Ministry opf Culture and the Holy See of Etchmiadzin.
Mr. Ghoughasyan said he first had to remove the touf stones used on the cupola and replace them with basalt tiles that are much more resilient. The last time the spire and dome were repaired was in 1889.
The church also had many of its stones water blasted to restore their originalcolors.
Work was also done on the belfry’s northeastern column that had been cracked due to the expansion of metal reinforcements that had been installed in the past. These were removed and glass bands were used to reinforce the column.
Another benefactor has said that he’d be willing to finance work on a rainwater removal system if a proper solution can be devised.