Tatev Monastery (Armenia) – description, history, location. Exact address and website. Tourist reviews, photos and videos.
30 km from Goris, in the heart of the Syunik region of Armenia, is one of the largest temple complexes in the country: the Tatev Monastery, or simply Tatev. The annals say that in ancient times the right bank of the river Vorotan was occupied by a pagan temple. With the advent of Christianity it lost its former significance and in the 9th century AD gave way to a temple with vestibules. The construction of the monastery complex lasted for hundreds of years and was completed only in the 13th century. It is still not known exactly who and when gave the name to the monastery.
According to one version, it was named in honor of the architect who threw himself into the abyss after finishing construction with the words, “Ogni, Surb, ta tev!”, which in Armenian means: “Holy Spirit, send me wings!”. Some scholars believe that the name of the monastery goes back to the name of St. Eustatheos, who died and was buried in the vicinity of the monastery. According to a third version, the temple got its name because within its walls the soul seems to gain wings, as if it were getting rid of the burden of sins and suffering. For centuries, Tatev Monastery has been the center of the political and religious life of the region. Although over time it has lost its former significance, its gates are still open to all who suffer.
What to see Tatev Monastery
A stony path leads to the monastery, formed as a result of the contact of the banks of the Vorotan River. This natural phenomenon is popularly called Satan’s Bridge. Its width varies from 1.4 to 1.6 m, and its height reaches 100 m. The lower part of the bridge is covered with natural outgrowths – stalactites: the water stream bursts out from under them with a roar. On the way to the monastery one periodically encounters mineral springs: the pools built near them for taking medicinal baths now lie in ruins, and only miraculously surviving fragments remind of their former splendor.
At the foot of the monastery the path breaks off, and as if by magic, out of nowhere, appear massive gates. Immediately behind them is the church of St. Peter and Paul, dating back to the beginning of the 10th century. This monumental structure with its round drum and umbrella dome is striking at first sight, but its interior is even more astonishing.
The interior of the church is decorated with stucco and the window openings are decorated with bas-reliefs of human faces surrounded by snake heads. In earlier centuries, bright frescoes covered the walls; now only faded fragments of them remain. The temple of St. Gregory the Illuminator, one of the most revered Armenian saints, adjoins the church to the south.
Opposite the living quarters of the monastery is the Gawazan, an articulated pillar eight meters high, composed of many small stones. Its peculiarity is that when pressed or at the slightest fluctuation of the ground, it tilts to the side and then resumes its original position. According to scholars, it alerted the inhabitants of the monastery of approaching enemies (the vibrations created by the crowds of people set the monument in motion), as well as of the threat of an earthquake.
Practical information about Tatev Monastery
You can reach Tatev by car, cab, sightseeing bus, or by the Wings of Tatev cable car, the longest in the world (6 km). Before your trip, it is worth checking the weather forecast: on inclement days, the gorge is closed.
The funicular works from 10:00 to 18:00 (winter season) and from 10:00 to 20:00 (summer season). Monday is the day off. The ticket price is AMD 5500-7000. Prices on the page are for April 2023.