Armenia Landmarks

Tatev Monastery

Tatev Monastery Armenia

On study trips through the traditional country of Armenia, the historically significant and scenic Tatev Monastery should also be visited.

Location and arrival

Tatev Monastery is located 35 kilometers southwest of the city of Goris in the southern Armenian province of Syunik. It is located high above the Worotan Gorge at 1500 meters above sea level and has been accessible from Halidzor with the “Wings of Tatev” cable car since 2010. The journey takes 11 minutes, covers 5.7 km and the gondolas sometimes float 500 meters above the gorge. Due to the road conditions, arriving by car is less recommended.

History and meaning

It is not far from the mountain station to the monastery, the construction of which began at the end of the 9th century and which is well preserved. Tatev was a bishopric and exercised significant religious, political and economic influence in the region. In the middle of the 14th century, the philosopher Hovhannes Vorotnetsi founded an educational center here, which later became a university, which attracted great scholars until the middle of the following century. In the course of the Soviet rule, the monastery was stopped, in 1931 there was a devastating earthquake, the monastery is now being gradually restored and monastery life has also been resumed.

Plant and sights

The Peter and Paul Church, built between 895 and 906, is enthroned in the middle of the complex, which is surrounded by a defensive wall. Four hundred years younger is the Grigorkirche built directly on it, which is dedicated to the man who was decisive for the establishment of the Armenian Apostolic Church: Gregory the Illuminator. The 11th century Church of Our Lady at the monastery entrance as well as an eight-meter-high stone column, which is located near the monk’s cells and shakes when touched, but does not fall over, have also been preserved. The view from up here is spectacular and a visit to the monastery is a highlight of your trips to Armenia.

Temple of Garni

The temple of Garni is located about 30 kilometers southeast of the Armenian capital Yerevan in the province of Kotayk and is one of the most important testimonies of pre-Christian culture in Armenia. Strictly speaking, the temple is part of a temple complex whose origins go back to the 3rd millennium BC. Go back BC. Excavation work is still taking place on site today. Particularly worth seeing are a bath complex, the remains of a two-story summer palace, a church from 897 and of course the temple itself.

The experts disagree about the actual builder of the temple, since the inscriptions that were found in 1945 only name Tiridates as the builder. While there is some evidence that it was built at the instigation of the Armenian King Tiridates I in the second half of the first century AD, some archaeologists are of the opinion that it was only built around 150 years later under the rule of Tiridates III. originated. However, this does not detract from its uniqueness.

The temple has had an eventful history. When the notorious Mongolian conqueror Timur marched through the region and plundered in 1386, he didn’t leave much of the entire complex. Although large parts of the complex were spared, a devastating earthquake in 1679 razed the entire terrain to the ground. The first excavations took place in 1909 and 1910. As one gradually came across the almost complete and still surprisingly well-preserved building structure of the temple, it could be rebuilt from 1969 to 1975.


Christian center in Armenia

The city of Echmiadzin is located in the Armenian region of Armavir Marz and is officially called Vagharschapat. The settlement has existed since ancient times, as evidenced by archaeological sites from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages in and around the city. The oldest written information about Echmiadzin relates to the time of the Urartian king Rusa II (685-645 BC). The city has three well-known churches, St. Hripsime Church, St. Gayane Church and Schoghakat Church. The houses of worship are an important example of early Armenian church architecture.

Image: Echmiadzin entrance gate church

UNESCO world cultural heritage church ensemble

The oldest domed church is the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, which was built by King Trdat III in 301-303. (Tiridates) and Saint Gregory the Illuminator. Its cruciform plan with four apses and a central dome on four pillars is the outstanding contribution of Armenian church architecture to Christian architecture as a whole. This ingenious discovery by Armenian architects spread across the country to Byzantium and then to Central and Western Europe. Another special feature besides the architectural qualities are the original paintings with interior frescoes.

St. Gayane Church (630 AD) is the earliest example of early Christian and Armenian architecture that combines a three-aisled basilica with a central dome, a shape that has caught on in both Armenia and Western Asia. It is a four-column domed basilica with harmonious proportions, a central nave and two sacristies made of well-processed tuff stone (a stone of volcanic origin). St. Gayane Church is considered to be the best example of this type of church. Under the main apse, which is entered from the southeast sacristy, is the vaulted tomb of the Blessed Virgin Gayane. The roof and walls of the church were renovated in 1652. A vestibule with three bays was built along the west facade of the church in 1683, at the north and south end of the chapels are dedicated to the apostles Peter and Paul. The narthex room also served as a burial place for the Catholics.

Armenia Landmarks