The Monastery of Geghard – UNESCO World Heritage
Armenia is famous among tourists for the variety of its monasteries and religious monuments, but the most famous of them is Gegard Monastery or Gegardavank.
Both tourists and locals love Geghard because the view is simply incredible: the monastery is located in a gorge between high suspended rocks, between mountains covered with thick forests. The monastery itself and its cells are carved into the rock.
In the monastery complex Geghard and around River Azat there are some churches which fully illustrate the medieval architecture of Armenia. The complex is located at the beginning of the Azat gorge and has an extraordinary natural beauty. High cliffs and mountains surround Geghard from several sides.
Geghard monastery history
The monuments included in the complex date to the IV-XIII centuries. Previously, the monastery was called Ayrivank (cave monastery). According to history, the monastery was founded by St. Gregory the Illuminator and was built after the adoption of Christianity as the state religion in Armenia in 301.
The origin of the name Geghard
Gegard is literally translated as “Monastery of the spear.” This monastery was named after the spear which wounded Jesus during the Crucifixion. Then the spear was delivered to Armenia by the Apostle Thaddeus and is now in the Echmiadzin Museum, (the religious centre of Armenia).
The Geghard complex consists of a cathedral, eastern and western rock churches, the tombs of the Proshyan princes, the tomb-chapel of Papak and his wife Ruzukan, as well as numerous khachkars (stone crosses) carved into the rocks. Near the monastery, there is a holy source of mountain water, which originates in a cave.
About Geghard monastery
Geghard Monastery is a well-known church and cultural centre of medieval Armenia, where in addition to religious buildings you can find a school, a library and many rocky residential places for monks.
For a long time, the monastery did not function, and the main church, Katokhike, was used in winter as a refuge from Karapapakh nomads. The monastery complex was restored by several Echmiadzin monks after Armenia joined the Russian Empire.
Geghard – UNESCO World Heritage
By the way, The Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley are listed in UNESCO World Heritage centre as an outstanding universal value.
Souvenirs on the way to Geghard
The road leading to the Geghard monastery is full of Armenian women selling sweet Geghard Gata, fruit lavash, walnuts, sudzhukh and other tasty souvenirs that you can take with you to your homeland.