The Havuts Tar Monastic Complex
The gorge of Garni is marvelous. The road goes up and down through rocks with stalactites and mountains bare at some places, forested at others. The Havuts Tar monastic complex stands at the top of the mountain, and to get to it you need to walk some 10 kilometers on a path winding around the shoulder of the mountain.
The Havuts Tar monastic complex is an 11-13th century walled monastery in the Azat River valley, across from the villages of Goght and Garni in the Kotayk Province of Armenia. First you need to go to the Goght or the Garni villages. From Yerevan a taxi will take you there for not more than 3000 AMD (~8 USD) in an hour. If you want to go by bus, you can get on a minibus in Nork District in Yerevan, next to the Palace trade center. The fare of the bus is about AMD 250.
You can get to the complex in an hour on foot either from Goght or from the dirt road at the bottom of the gorge thats accessible by car from Garni. On the way you can see one of the marvels of Armenia - symphony of stones. The cliff that flanks the road and at places slightly overhangs it has been weathered over the centuries into a stalactite decoration.
Further on the way you see cross stones, and then as you approach the site you see a cluster of small tombs and then the walls of the monastery. Behind the monastery stands the Amenaprkich Church (Holy Saviour) on a higher elevation.
The 3d Century Forest
The hike to the church is delightful, the path going to the Khosrov Forest State Reserve that was planted by the Armenian Khosrov king in the 3d century AD. Its amazing to see ancient and rare plants, fascinating steep cliffs, cackling rivers as you walk in the reserve. There are other monuments to see in the reserve: the Aghjots Monastery, Kakavaberd fortress and Azat caves with remains of ancient settlements.
The walled enclosure of the monastery seems to protect a rich trove of inscriptions and carvings, as well as vaulted guest rooms and secular buildings. The monastery complex consists of a church and secular buildings inside it, and the church Surb Amenaprkich standing about hundred meters away.
The walls of the monastery have partially survived. Its exciting to stoop down and walk through the narrow entrance and then around inside the monastery, enter the partially-ruined vaulted guest rooms with niches in the walls that served as shelves. Some facades of the church have survived. There are two gavits; the first is attached to the southern side of the church, while the other gavit - to the eastern side of the first one.
The Surb Amenaprkich Church
The main church, Surb Amenaprkich, was built in the 13th century. It is built from red and black shaved tuff which gives it a vivacious look. In the eastern elevation there are triangular double niches. The only portal is in the western facade. On the southern side, a chapel is attached to the church.