Monasteries in Armenia come with a loooong history. Did you know that Armenians are the first Christian nation in the world? They have adopted Christianity more than 1.700 years ago, so it’s no wonder Armenia is famous for its magnificent monasteries. If you’re having hard time choosing which ones to visit, here is a list to help you decide.
It is pretty safe to say that everyone who has been to Armenia has visited Tatev Monastery. It is country’s most visited monastery and the best way to get there is by taking the cableway (which is also the longest reversible aerial tramway in the world as per Guinness World Records!). The view from the cable car is spectacular and information about attractions along the way is given in Armenian, Russian and English language. Grab yourself a jingalov hats, traditional flatbread stuffed with herbs from one of the local sellers in front of the monastery while taking in the scenery.
Sevanavank Monastery was originally built on an island in the northwestern part of Lake Sevan, but due to construction of artificial drainages now stands on a peninsula. This 9th Century monastery consists of two churches and ruins of a third one and is definitely worth the visit. Tip: Follow the path past the monastery for some amazing (almost) 360 degree views of the lake!
Hidden amid towering cliffs in a narrow valley lies Geghard Monastery (that rhymes!), probably the most popular place to get married in Armenia. What makes this monastery special is the fact that the main Katoghike chapel hides a set of chambers and caves cut into a rock behind it. Take the stairs on the left side of the monastery to reach the second complex of the church. Geghard Monastery and Azat River gorge together make one of the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Armenia.
While Khor Virap Monastery doesn’t stand out as the most beautiful of them all, it certainly offers some of the greatest views of the biblical mountain Ararat. On a clear day, the monastery and Ararat make for a jaw-dropping picture. The monastery is settled among green pastures and vineyards and the Armenian-Turkish border is only 100 meters away.
Noravank, which literally translates to “New Monastery,” is situated in a picturesque gorge two hours south of Yerevan. The monastery is surrounded by stunning red hills and even the road to get there is something to see. If you’re not afraid of heights, take the steep narrow double staircase into Astvatsatsin church.
Last but not least, Haghartsin Monastery is hidden away in a beautiful forest only a short drive from the spa capital of Armenia, Dilijan. Stopping for a picture or two on a scenic route to get there is a must. Unspoiled nature surrounding this recently restored monastery makes for one of the most peaceful atmospheres you’ll come across in Armenia. Although not visited as much as Tatev or others, Hagharstin Monastery should definitely be at the top of your Armenian travel list.
Have you been to any of these monasteries? Do you have any to add?