Interior of Sanahin Monastery

Sanahin Monastery Complex

May 19, 2014 - Travel to Armenia

Have you ever wondered how people lived ten centuries ago, what they were interested in and how did they spend their leisure time in Caucasus? In Northern part of Armenia, there are several places that give chance to visitors to travel back in time, forget about everyday rush and provide space for some exploration, finding peace and harmony.

One of those places is Sanahin monastery which is registered in UNESCO’s World Heritage list. To be more precise, this is a monastery complex consisting of places and buildings which reflect traditions and habits of people living in this area thousand of years ago.


If you are mainly based in Yerevan, trip to Sanahin won’t be suitable for one-day activity, since, it is pretty far from the Armenian capital and the best option would be to include it into wider tour while travelling across the country. This place is near the Armenian-Georgian border, and is two km south-east of the town of Alaverdi. The exact date of the foundation of Sanahin is unknown, but historians claim its origins are going back to the middle of the 10th century

Sanahin Monastery consists of a large group of buildings on the plateau above Debed Gorge. This complex consists of several buildings which date back to different periods: the larger church of St. Amenaprkitch (Holy Redeemer), the smaller, adjacent church of St. Astvatsatsin (Church of the Mother of God) and the round chapel of St. Gregory, an academy, a bell tower and a library. St. Astvatzatzin is located to the north of the cathedral and is the oldest building in the complex, built in 934 by monks fleeing from Byzantium.

facade of a church in Sanahin Monastery

Sanahin Monastery Complex was renowned for its school of illuminators and calligraphers. The large library is square in plan and vaulted, with ten niches of varying sizes in which books were stored. At the south-eastern corner of the library, you can find the small church dedicated to St. Gregory the Illuminator. The 11th-century Academy of Gregory Magistros is located between the two main churches. The deep niches along the walls and the abundance of light give this building an exceptional spatial quality.

Sanahin Monastery from above

But apart from architectural and spiritual peculiarities, while visiting this place, remember that the mountainous landscape will be your companion all the time, reminding you about the true power of nature, giving the feeling of harmony and silence. And if you get hungry or tired during enjoying this exceptional pieces of culture, spiritual and natural treasure, the nearest spot might be found at hotel in this area, Debed hotel (20 minutes walking distance from the sightseeing spot).

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