Eight Things You Should Know Before Visiting Tatev Monastery
Situated high on the edge of the cliff, over the Canyon of Vorotan River, in Syunik Province of Armenia: Monastery of Tatev.
In case you are planning a trip to this sanctum of wisdom and faith, here are our eight recommendations about what you should know before starting the trip.
1. From Yerevan to Halidzor
The drive from the capital city of Yerevan to the village of Halidzor, Syunik Province takes around 3.5 to 4 hours. One- day trip can be too overwhelming, therefore, we suggest you plan the trip carefully.
/ On your way to and back from the Monastery of Tatev you can explore such masterpieces of the Armenian Architecture, as the Noravank Monastery and the mountain spa town of Jermuk in Vayots Dzor Province, Carahunge – the Stonehenge of Armenia near the city of Sisian in Syunik Province, etc. /
2. Monastery of Tatev
The Monastery of Tatev is one of the monasteries and churches emerged instead of the destroyed pagan temples in the Southeastern Armenia after Christianity was proclaimed as the official religion of Armenia in 301 A.D. The monastic complex belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church and was founded in the 4th century. However, it was gradually constructed by the end of the 9th and start of 10th centuries, as well as from the 17th to 18th centuries.
/ In 1995, the Monastery of Tatev was added to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. /
3. Why Tatev?
According to a local legend Tatev should be interpreted from Liturgical Armenian «Օգնիր, Սուրբ, տա թեւ» (Ognir, Surb, ta tev) as “Let the Holy Spirit give me the wings”.
/ The legend says that when the master finished his work in Tatev Monastery he came to the very edge of the cliff, crossed himself, said «Օգնիր, Սուրբ, տա թեւ» (Ognir Surb ta tev) translated as “Let the Holy Spirit give me the wings” and threw himself down. Suddenly two wings grew on his back and he flew away. Therefore, the monastery was named Tatev in honour of the master whose appeal was heard by God. /
4. University of Tatev
One of the first universities in Armenia was founded at the end of the 14th century in Tatev. Nowadays, it is relatively well preserved and one can see all the auditoriums, the auxiliary rooms and the cells of the students-monks who were studying at the University of Tatev.
/ Many famous manuscripts and scientific works were made at the University of Tatev that operated between 1390 to 1435. /
5. Oil Mill
«Ձիթհան» (Zithan) translated as Oil Mill was built at the end of the 18th century. The Oil Mill of the Monastery is one of the well preserved and valuable medieval structures of the kind in Armenia. One can go back in time and explore the monastic and culinary heritage of Armenia in the Oil Mill that was restored in the recent years into an interactive museum.
6. Grand Hermitage of Tatev
A breathtaking view of another spiritual cloister of Syunik Province, Tatevi Mets Anapat or Tatev’s Grand Hermitage, opens at the very edge of the cliff, where the Monastery of Tatev is perched.
/ This medieval architectural complex was founded in the 17th century on the bank of Vorotan River and is surrounded by thick forests. /
7. Devil’s Bridge
The natural travertine bridge Satani Kamourdj («Սատանի կամուրջ») translated as the Devil’s Bridge, located one kilometer from Tatevi Mets Anapat in the direction opposite to the flow of Vorotan River. This natural bridge is 30 meters long and 60 meters wide.
/ For thousand years Armenians tried to understand how the bridge was formed. Therefore, having found no explanation to it, this natural wonder was called Satani Kamourdj or the Devil’s Bridge. /
The Wings of Tatev, the world’s longest non-stop reversible aerial tramway (5,752 m/18,871 ft) is recorded in the Guinness World Records Book and connects the village of Halidzor with the secluded pearl of Syunik Province, the Monastery of Tatev.
/ The aerial tramway has two stations: one is on a hill overlooking the village of Halidzor and the other is near the Monastery of Tatev. The ride takes approximately 11 to 15 minutes (Working hours and ticket prices). The highest elevation is 320 meters. It is the most optimal way to reach the Monastery./
/ Anyone suffering from claustrophobia or having fear of heights can also drive, take a bus or walk from Halidzor to the Monastery through the gorge of Vorotan. However, keep in mind that the winding road is quite long, narrow and steep! /
In Armenia they say, it is better to see once than to be told about thousand times. We do hope you will share your experience with us after the visit and wish you a travel with lifetime memories no matter which destination you aim at.