Historical Tours

Armenian Monasteries in historical tours

Price/Person

90$

Duration

1 day

Highlights

Hovhannavanq, Mughni, Saghmosavanq

Languages

English, Russian, Polish

First on our way laying magnificent St.Gevork Monastery of Mughni. It was built to house some of the remains of Saint George who was known as the "Slayer of Dragons".Many portions of the stonework on the church of Saint Gevork use two colors of stone; a darker grey tuff and an apricot colored tuff.In the interior of the church there are numerous religious frescoes around the apse and on the left wall leading to the tomb of S. George of whom the church is named after. They were most likely painted in the 17th century by Naghash Hovnatan whose other works include decoration of the Etchmiadzin Cathedral and other churches near Yerevan and Agulis.

Then me move to another beautiful monastery standing on the edge of the canyon - this is Hovhannavanq. Hovhannavank is an Armenian Apostolic Church monastery located in the village of Ohanavan in the Aragatsotn Province of Armenia. The monastery was dedicated to John the Baptist, whom Armenians venerate as their patron-saint.The centerpiece of the monastery is the Cathedral built between 1216 and 1221 through the donation of Prince Vache Vachutian. The Cathedral has a cruciform floor plan, with two story sacristies in each of the four extensions of the church. The dome has an umbrella-shaped roof, which is unique to Armenian churches. Cathedral’s important decorations include carved scenes from the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins.The monastery walls are covered with rich lapidary inscriptions. Hovhannavank’s Cathedral belongs to the category of «Gandzasar-style» ecclesiastical edifices that were built approximately at the same time in different parts of Armenia, and were endowed with similar compositional and decorative characteristics (another example—Cathedral of the Haritchavank Monastery). Those include umbrella-shaped dome, cruciform floor plan, narthex (often with stalactite-ornamented ceiling), and high-relief of a large cross on one of church’s walls.

And finally we move to I think the best of these three , Saghmosavanq - the pearl between mountains at the edge of the river. Saghmosavank Monastery was founded in 1215 when the prince Vache Vachyutian ordered to erect there the temple of Surb Zion (Holy Zion). Later the temple acquired extensions from the western and southern sides – the vestibule (1250), the book-depository (1255), the church of St. Astvatsatsin (1235). All the structures are included into the monastic complex of Sagmosavank. The main temple is of Greek-cross design. It is a severe looking building made from dark brown stones with its four sides forming the cross-shaped facade. The cylindrical dome towers in the middle.

Reserve now !

Fields marked with an * are required

Price/Person

160$

Duration

2 days

Highlights

Noravanq, Tatev, Khndcoresk, Carahunge

Languages

English, Russian, Polish

This is perhaps one of the most mysterious destinations in the whole Armenia - Carahunge , an old observatory, even older than the famous Stonehenge, Tatev Monastery – an amazing medieval monastery complex at the edge of the gorge, and Noravanq Monastery - magic spiritual center located in scenic part of south Armenia, the Vayoc Dcor province.

Day 1

We start from Yerevan and head to the south of Armenia to the Vayoc Dcor province, to Noravank, through the Ararat valley. We will have the iconic Ararat mountain in the background, then we will see rough red, weathered rocks of Vayoc Dcor province by the Arpa and Vorotan rivers. On the way to Noravanq we will discover famous wine making village Areni, where we will stop for some snacks and a local wine tasting.

Noravanq means New Monastery in Armenian. Built in 13th century, the monastery is a lovely example of the ornate architecture of this period. The site is comprised of three surviving churches, each decorated in intricate designs and religious reliefs. The sculptor of Noravank was a man by the name of Momik, who created the lovely stonework that survives today. He also carved a number of uniquely Armenian religious monuments known as khachkars (cross-stone), which usually depicted an image of a cross surmounting a circular symbol. The sculptor is buried in a simple grave at the site.

After contemplating amazing monastery, indulging in its wonderful surroundings, and learning its history from our guide, we will head to our next sight, Carahunge, nicknamed Armenian Stonehenge. Latitude of Carahunge is 39° 34' and longitude - 46° 01'. The site is located on a mountain plateau (1770 MASL), and occupies a territory of about 7 hectares on the left side of the Dar river canyon. The name Carahunge is interpreted as deriving from two Armenian words: car (or kar) (Armenian: քար), meaning stone, and hunge or hoonch (Armenian: հունչ), meaning sound. Thus the name Carahunge means Speaking Stones.This interpretation is related to the fact that the stones make whistling sounds on a windy day, presumably because of multiple reach-through holes bored under different angles into the stones in prehistoric times.We will have time there to walk around, to experience the miraculous stone sounds ourselves. We will have a chance to get introduced to historical and magical aspects of the site. Then, we will move forward to the town of Goris, where we will stay for the night. We will have our dinner in a nice hotel, then we will take a walk around narrow streets of the old town.

Day 2

On the next day, Goris will tell us good morning with a fresh wave of crispy mountainous air. We will have our village breakfast made from fresh local products in the hotel. Then it will be time to move to our next destination – the famous Tatev Monastery, one of the most visited attractions in the whole Caucasus region. We will take the longest reversible aerial tramway to reach the monastery. The cable car travels at a speed of 37 km (23 mi) per hour and one-way journey takes 10 minutes. At its highest point over the gorge, the car travels 320 m (1,050 ft) above the ground.

History

Tatev Monastery is a 9th-century historical monument. It is one of the oldest and most famous monastery complexes in Armenia. In medieval times Tatev Monastery was a vital scholastic and spiritual center that played a crucial role in the country’s history.

Origin of the Name

There are two legends on the origin of the monastery’s name. One of the versions states that after the work was completed, the architect stood on the ravine’s edge, crossed himself piously, and said: Ognir, Surb, ta tev! (“May the wing’s Holy Spirit send down!?). And the master grew wings, took off and saw his creation from a bird’s eye view… And this miracle was named Tatev.

Arts and culture

In the late XIVth century, Ovanes Vorotnetsi established the largest university in the South Caucasus located at Tatev Monastery. Courses taught there included philosophy, theology, grammar, physics, mathematics and astronomy, calligraphy, native speech, literature, history and architecture, classes in miniature arts and mural painting, and bookmaking technology. The university trained dignitaries, theologians, pedagogues, and manuscript writing specialists. The teaching process lasted from 7 to 8 years. Besides 500 monks, who lived at Tatev, there were also many philosophers, musicians, writers and artists who resided at the complex. The university’s golden age is related to the activities of deans Ovanes Vorotnetsi (1325-1388) and Grigor Tatevatsi (1346-1410).

The oil mill

Tatev Monastery's 17th century oil mill is a unique artifact. It is valuable not only as a historical monument, but also as a museum that offers visitors an unique experience and insight into Armenia's culinary and cultural heritage as well as on the way Tatev's monastic economy used to function. The Tatev Oil Mill was one of the most prominent of its time and was known for its high-quality engineering. It primarily produced flaxseed oil, however medieval Armenian oil mills of similar kind also commonly produced oil from sesame, hemp and other plants. Its yield was so high that it was the main provider of oil for several surrounding villages. It was built outside the monastery walls, so that private clients could have access to it without disturbing the serenity of monastic life.

There is way more to tell about Tatev, but the rest you will see, when you visit the complex , now it's time to have our late lunch and go to our last destination – Old Khndzoresk caves. Old Khndzoresk expanded on both slopes of the mountain. These slopes had no flat areas necessary for construction of houses. That explains why people used natural and manmade caves on these slope as dwellings. Many of these dwellings were 20-30 m high from the ground, arranged one over the other, so that the ceiling for one house was the floor for the other. These cave dwellings are many centuries old and the cave city itself seems to be more then 1000 years old. There were 4 churches in Old Khndzoresk: St. Hripsime, St. Tadeos, Church of Anapat (Desert) and Old Church. In lower Khndzoresk, at the old graveyard, under a basalt plate with annotations, you can find a burial place of Mkhitar Sparapet (Mkhitar the troops leader), the hero of Armenian nation from the first quarter of XVIII century, who fought against Persian and Turkish invaders. Old Khndzoresk is a historical monument and is under governmental protection.

Reserve now !

Fields marked with an * are required