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Travel Blog


Geghard is a monastery in Armenia having a rich historical background. Geghard monastery location is near Goght village, Kotayk region. Being built in the caves and surrounded with a virgin nature, it attracts not only locals but also the tourists, and is considered as one of the most visited destinations in Armenia. Today the monastery of Geghard and Upper Azat Valley are inscripted in the UNESCO World Heritage List and granted with the status of enhanced protection.

Historical background

The foundation year of the monastery is not certain, though the sources mention that the first church of it was built on the 4th century, when Christianity was adopted by the Armenians as a state religion. The monastery was founded on the place of the sanctuary of pre-Christian times. It was named Airivank, meaning “the monastery of the caves”. The monastery later was renamed Geghardavank (“monastery of a spear”), in the name of the spear the Roman soldier wounded Christ with. The spear was kept in Geghard for 500 years, but today you can see it in the Echmiadzin Cathedral Museum. As a holy relic the spear was used by the Armenians and neighboring nations for protecting themselves from the wars and to bless their people.

The main church of the complex is Katoghike built in 1215 which is the greatest sample of a cross-domed structure of that time. The church is rich with architectural decorations, especially the southern façade, on which the attack of the lion on ox is sculpted meaning the power of the prince. During 1215-1225 a four columned gavit (narthex – an entrance to the church) was built near the western part of Katoghike, looking like rural houses.

During the history Geghard was plundered resulting the loss of many manuscripts. After the reconstruction it was surrounded with the walls for the better protection. Geghard was partially destroyed because of the earthquakes in different years. When restored it became the summer residence of all Armenian Catholicoi.

For years the monastery of Geghard has been not only a spiritual center but also an educational institution with school and library. In Matenadaran, State Libraries of Paris and Berlin lots of autographs, manuscripts, gospels, chant collection and etc. can be found written in Geghardavank.

On the way to the monastery you can see the khachkars (cross-stones) that are the duplicates of the once of 16-17th centuries. The cross-stones were duplicated in the 21st century after the destruction of the Armenian cemetery in the city of Jugha (Julfa), Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic.

Legends about the Monastery

There is an interesting legend of treasure (diamond) related to the Geghard monastery. People tell that on the northern cave-abbey a treasure was kept. This is because the architects of that time could give the light a shape of diamond using the light effects coming from the garret window. The conqueror Amir Timur tries to take the treasure but closes the light path with his shade when coming near it, and the diamond disappears. Timur comes closer to the treasure thrice but without success. In the end, he decides not to destroy the monastery. The diamond disappears after the earthquake in 1679.

Holy Water heals the sick

Whenever you take Geghard monastery tour don’t forget to drink Geghard monastery holy water which was once blessed by the first Catholicos Gregory the Illuminator. There are many cells carved in the rocks and you can see a spring flowing from one of them. For centuries the holy water has been known for its healing property, and the stories of many people cured form the water are told in our times too. Nowadays people continue to believe in its holy power, and no one leaves the monastery without drinking the water or taking it with them.

As a historical place the monastery is definitely in a list of the must see destinations for the visitors. Geghard monastery hours are from 8 a.m to 8 p.m, which means you will have enough time to explore the surroundings. In case you want to have an unforgettable and a high-standard tour, to collect nice memories and just enjoy the day concentrating only on the tour, simply contact Caucasus Holidays. At the end, do not forget to taste the famous Geghard gata and sujukh which are made and sold by the locals.