This Week in Armenian History

Birth of Armen Hakhnazarian (May 5, 1941)

Armen Hakhnazarian was a pioneering researcher of Armenian architecture especially under danger in Turkey and Azerbaijan, founding and presiding Research on Armenian Architecture, a well-known organization that works towards the preservation of our cultural legacy.

Hakhnazarian was the son of linguist Hovhannes Hakhnazarian, a lecturer at the University of Tehran. He was born on May 5, 1941, in the capital of Iran. He completed his elementary and high school studies at Kooshesh Davtian School (Tehran) in 1959. In 1969, he earned his doctorate in architecture from the Department of Architecture of the Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering at RWTH Aachen University (Aachen, Germany). In 1973, he graduated from the Department of Urban Planning of the same faculty, having earned another doctorate in technical sciences as an architect-planner. Ten years later, he started teaching at the Faculty of Urban Planning of his alma mater, in a career that lasted many years.

Armen Hakhnazarian started his research activities in 1968, when he undertook the measurement of St. Thaddeus Monastery in the historically Armenian district of Artaz (currently Maku in the province of West Azerbaijan, Iran). Between 1972 and 1978, he made six research trips to Western Armenia. Later, however, he was banned from continuing his trips, but he managed to continue his studies by sending other researchers to Western Armenia and Cilicia up until his untimely death. He published 7 volumes on Armenian architecture in microfiche (1983-1989), as well as the volume on New Julfa in the 24-volume Documents of Armenian Architecture published in Italy between the late 1960s and the early 1990s, among other publications in the field.

In 1973, Hakhnazarian married architect Margrit Buenemann. They had two daughters: Talin and Shahriz. In 1982, he officially established Research on Armenian Architecture (RAA) in Aachen. The organization, a foundation since 2010, was registered in Armenia in 1998.

Over the decades, he engaged in the renovation of many Armenian churches in Iran (St. Sargis and St. Gevorg, Tehran; St. Stepanos and St. Thaddeus, Maku; Holy Virgin of Tzortzor, Maku), Armenia (churches of the villages of Tatev and David Bek; Saghmosavank; St. Sargis Monastery, Ushi), Artsakh (Holy Virgin, Karintak; Dadivank, Karvajar), and Syria (St. Stepanos, Kesab), where he also was active in the renovation of several historical houses in Kesab.

In the last two year of his life, Armen Hakhnazarian received the Order of Honor of the National Assembly of Armenia, the Hakob Meghapart Medal of the National Library of Armenia, and the Diploma of Honor of the Ministry of Urban Development of Armenia. He passed away in Aachen on February 19, 2009, with part of his ashes buried there and the rest in the cemetery of the village of Artashavan (province of Aragatzotn, Armenia).