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Geghard monastery impresses visitors with a first glance by its hieratic solemnity and indescribably beauty of rocky mountains, by which it surrounded .
It is placed in the same named town in the Kotaik region and its name means – the monastery of spear, that refers to the spear by which was injured Christ during the crucifixion. According to legend, it was delivered to Armenia by Apostle and today is kept in Echmiadzin as the most valuable relic.
The extraordinarity and uniqueness of the monastery lies in the fact that the structure toreutic into the grot.
As known the sanctuary was erected by St.Gregory at the spot of the holy source coming from the intern of the grot.
The original monastery was demolished by Arabs during the intrusion, and as shown in historical sources of IV, VIII and X centenaries, it appeared as a complex of religious buildings, residential and shops.
The first name of the complex was Ayrivank that meant a monastery in the cave that is in the 923 was changed by Vice-regent of the caliph, and it also was looted priceless treasures stored here and were burnt invaluable manuscripts. Well, meanwhile the time and the seismic instability of the territory also did their job.
The main shrine was renovated in 1215 under the leadership of the brothers Ivan and Zahar, who were the generals of Queen Tamar of Georgia, which freed the majority of the Armenian lands from the Turks.
It is rich in traditional decorative elements, which can be seen on the southern portal. Gavit – Armenian word used to indicate the type of room that was used for lectures and meetings with the pilgrims. Gavit decorated with bas-reliefs, in which are also visible the figures of pagan traditions have symbolic significance of a religious nature. Several chapels were carved into the rock in the middle of the 13th century.
One room, which is placed over two churches, zamatum, meaning in the Armenian is kind of the atrium or small tunnel, which connects to the church Avazan.
Soon the inhabitants of the Principality Proshians built in caves: the second temple, the family vault of Zhamatun Papak and Ruzukan, conference hall, destroyed in the middle of the twentieth century, as well as numerous cells. And the room in the north-eastern part became the last refuge of Prince Prosh Khaghbakian in 1283.
Here in the neighborhood in the rock carved coats of arms of the family Proshian, one of which depicts a lamb in its talons of the eagle. The same family is credited with the construction of the thirteenth century irrigation system of Gegard.
Monastery during its existence has gone through different periods of prosperity and heavy damage, but today is in good condition and recovered for tourism.
Impressive high cliffs that are part of the gorge of the Azat river are surrounding the complex. Here you can also see numerous khachkars, characteristic stone crosses.
In 2000 the monastery Geghard and Azat Valley itself became the part of the UNESCO World Heritage.