There is a lot that Armenia can offer in terms of its attractions and destinations. Those monasteries found in rocky slopes and mountain tops are too awe-inspiring to miss. So we didn’t hesitate to get to these astonishing monastic complexes.
The first one to capture our hearts is the beautiful bluish body of water found in the Gegharkunik Province, the Lake Sevan. Atop its peninsula hill is the old and historical Sevanavank Monastery that is said to be made up of 2 structures: the Surb Arkaletos (Holy Apostles) and the Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) built by Princess Mariam. We appreciated much the feeling of serenity that welcomed us in this so-called “Black Monastery” given the fact that is overlooking the pearl of the Armenians.
The Wings of Tatev, the longest aerial reversible cable in the world which landed its name to the Guinness World Records, brought us to see the magnificent panorama of the whole of Tatev from the Halidzor Park until we reached Tatev Monastery. The monastery, which was named Tatev in honor of a certain master whose prayer was heard by God, is also composed of different structures. One found in the middle of the walled compound is the Church of Paul and Peter. At its side was the Mausoleum of Grigor Tatevatsi and opposite it is the Gavazan Monument erected in 904. Our Tatev experience made us live back in time.
We cannot just easily move on from the magnificent view of the Geghard Monastery which is located in the Kotayk Province. This UNESCO world heritage site is one of the most frequented tourist destinations in Armenia. After a declaration of Christianity in the 4th century, Gregory the Illuminator built the monastery that is known to many as “Monastery of the Spear” which originates from the spear that wounded Jesus Christ at the crucifixion. It was a very fruitful afternoon, enjoying the scenic views of the mountains, cave, old bridge, and the spring.
Another one nestled in the abandoned village in the Syunik Province is the well-preserved 12th-century Noravank Monastery. Legends had it that because of the “eyes of God” that the monastery survived from the Mongols’ invasion. The monastic complex consists of 3 churches: Surb Karapet Church, Surb Grigor Chapel, and the Surb Astvatsasin.
5. Khor Virap
Overlooking the spectacular snow-capped Mt. Ararat, the Khor Virap Monastery was once used as the prison of Grigor Luisavorich who is commonly known as “Gregory the Illuminator” who brought Christianity in Armenia. Because of the pit dug where he was kept for 13 years, the name of the monastery was derived which means “deep dungeon.”
We were also able to enjoy the splendid medieval architecture of the only surviving pagan temple in Armenia after Christianity was declared as the official state religion. There is nothing much on it but because of its jaw-dropping scenery surrounding the temple, we got to plunge into a whole new world. There are several monasteries in our list that, unfortunately, we were not able to make because of our limited time. And the next time we come around, we’ll hit these touristic spots to get them off our loads!