The Tatev Monastery is one of the masterpieces of Armenian medieval architecture. It reflects the classical style of the earlier Armenian architecture, but stands out by innovations contrived by the architects of the Syunik School.
Built during the 9th through 13th centuries and hidden from strangers’ eyes, the Tatev Monastery was the religious, spiritual, political, and economic center of the Syunik duchy. It used to be the wealthiest medieval monastery in Armenia.
A Fantastic Trip on the World's Longest Cable Car
The Tatev Monastery is in Syunik Province, 280 km from Yerevan, close to the city Goris. The trip to the Tatev Monastery is an adventure, going through gorges and valleys and then riding above mountains on cable car.
First, you need to get to the village Halidzor. You can take a taxi from Yerevan to the village and from there a cable car up to the monastery. A taxi will charge you between 28000 and 35000 AMD (~76 to 95 USD). An alternative, much cheaper way is to take the minibus that commutes between Yerevan and Goris for 4000 AMD (~11 USD). The minibus leaves from Tigran Mets Street in Yerevan. Once in Goris, you can take a taxi to the village Halidzor thats not far and then get on the cable car. It takes about three hours by car and four hours by bus to get to Goris from Yerevan.
From Halidzor village a cable car takes you to the monastery. Each carriage transports 25 people. The ticket is 3000 AMD (~8 USD). It is a very thrilling ride of about 11 minutes; a vast landscape of lush green mountain slopes stretches below you. You can pride yourself on having taken the longest cable car trip in the world at the maximum height of 320 meters above ground level.
Optionally, you can go all the way to the monastery by car, but you will miss out on the fascinating view of the broken country of Armenia.
Inside the Fortress Walls
It is interesting to see the Tatev Monastery, because all the premises of the monastery have almost survived, and you can fully visualize the routine of the monasteries of the medieval Armenia.
As you approach, not far from the entrance, towards the east, you will see the ruins of a creamery. You walk into the monastery through the St. Astvatsatsin Church on the northeast angle of the monastery fortification. You will find yourself in a courtyard, where you will see the Cathedral of Sts. Poghos and Petros, the major artistic and conceptual structure of the complex, the gavit with a bell-tower on top, which served as a porch in the southern elevation of the cathedral, the cells of the residential and service premises arranged along the perimeter of the walls overlooking the abyss, and a spring (water fountain). As you walk around the cathedral, a vaulted gallery, which has remained partially intact, will emerge from behind the gavit; on your right you will see a vaulted hall that was a refectory with a kitchen and storerooms and the chambers of Father Superior that complete the circle of the defensive wall. There is a swinging pillar in front of the living quarters. Completing almost a full circle around the cathedral, you will see the St. Gregory Church annexed to the cathedral in the southern elevation.
There is a lot to see at the Tatev Monastery, from churches to tombs to khachkars (cross stones) to medieval living quarters. Undoubtedly, your trip will be full of savory moments not to be forgotten.