St. Nicholas The Miracle Worker Russian Orthodox Church
The village of Amrakits, located near Stepanavan, a town in Armenia’s Lori Province, is best known for its St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker Russian Orthodox Church, whose wooden doors have been shut since the 1988 Spitak Earthquake, that severely damaged the structure.
Registered as a historical-cultural monument, it has been closed ever since. Russians began to leave Amrakits after the 1988 earthquake and many moved to the Stavropol and Krasnodar regions in Russia.
The churches icons and other assorted religious items were transferred to the Russian Orthodox church in Gyumri in 2009. However, even today, the faithful still visit the closed church. They light candles, and place religious images at the door. Some even make sacrificial offerings near the church.
The St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker Russian Orthodox Church was built in 1846 by Ukrainian Cossacks from the regions of Poltava and Chernigov, who settled in Armenia in the early 19th century when the Armenian Lori-Pambak, Ghazakh and Shamshadin regions, along with Georgia, were annexed by Russia. Military and administrative workers from Russia, and members of their families, and later peasants resettling in Eastern Armenia from distant parts of the Russian Empire, comprised the core of the Orthodox populace in Armenia.
The new settlement was originally called Nikolaevka (Novo Nikolaevka), and in 1938 it was renamed Kirov. In 1991 the village was restored to its historical name of Amrakits.
Many tourists aren’t even aware that such church exists. The only tip-off is a view of the church’s distinct roof and crosses visible from the Yerevan-Stepanavan highway. Travelers catch a glimpse of the church and turn into the village to get a closer look. Despite being a tourist attraction, unfortunately, there are no plans to renovate the church.