Tatev Monastery is located near the high mountain village of the same name in the Syunik region, at the cliff of a deep gorge. It was founded in the 9th century on the site of an ancient sanctuary. Its advantageous strategic location in a hard-to-reach place favored the creation of powerful fortifications here. For some time, the Tatev Monastery was not only the religious, but also the political center of the Syunik principality.



The Tatev ensemble is harmoniously consistent with the surrounding mountain landscape. The main monument of the monastery is the large church of St. Poghos-Petros, erected in 895-906, which is a type of domed basilica.

Smooth, without excessive detail, the facades of the temple are decorated with images of human faces, to which are turned the heads of snakes, revered by the Armenians as patrons of the home.

The interiors of the temple, which served as the main cathedral of Syunik, were decorated with frescoes in 930, which are now almost completely lost. In the altar apse Christ was depicted surrounded by vices and saints. The western wall was painted with scenes of the Last Judgment, the northern – with scenes of the Nativity.



Adjacent to the southern wall of the main temple is the Church of St. Grigor, built in 1925 on the site of an earlier building of the 9th century. This is a hall-type church with a semi-circular altar apse.

Adjacent to the Church of Surb Grigor is a vaulted gallery with arched openings on the south side. Perhaps this is where the university operated.

In the 19th century, a three-tier bell tower with a light eight-column belfry was built in front of the entrance to the main temple.

The monastery preserves a unique work of Armenian engineering art – the Gavazan monument, erected in 904 in the monastery courtyard.

This is an octagonal pillar, made of small pure carved stones, eight meters high. At its top there is a khachkar with an incised ornament and a semicircular top. Thanks to the hinged connection with the stylobate and the extremely precise calculation of the center of gravity of the structure, this pillar tilted and returned to its original position under the influence of seismic vibrations of the soil and even from the simple touch of a human hand.

The article was compiled based on observations and materials collected by the ArmLand club.

Author of photos: Artyom Martirosyan