Tatev Monastery

Tatev (lit. "Give Wings") is one of the best known and most visited monasteries in Armenia. Tatev is a 9th-century complex located 280 km (174 mi) away from the capital on the edge of a cliff with a spectacular view on the gorge of Vorotan river.

Short History

In the 14th - 15th centuries Tatev was a prominent scholarly center of Armenia hosting a University where fields such as science, theology, and philosophy prospered. Developments of calligraphy and painting resulted in the creation of new manuscripts and copying of older ones as well as miniature painting (colorful illustration of manuscripts)

The Legend

There is a legend explaining the origin of the name "Tatev": when the construction of the cathedral was finished a young monk secretly climbed the dome of the church to mount a cross of his own making. On his way down he was spotted by a master priest so he panicked and fell off the wall into the abyss. While falling down he prayed to God to give him wings hence the name "Ta Tev" which literally means Give Wings.

Monastery Buildings

Within the confines of the monastery complex, there are 3 churches, a library, refectory, belfry, mausoleum, and other minor buildings.

St Paul and St Peter Church

This church was built during 895 and 906 AD. It is named after Christ's 2 apostles. There is a khachkar on the western wall of the church bearing important historical details related to the construction of the church. In 930 inside of the walls were decorated with frescos depicting nativity scenes, Christ surrounded with apostles and angels, the Judgement Day and so on. Only a small part of those frescos survived the challenge of time.

St Gregory the Illuminator Church

This church was built during 836 - 848 AD. The church collapsed in the earthquake of 1138 but was rebuilt a century and a half later. The church has an unpretentious architecture, simple ornaments near the entrance and no-dome structure.

St Mary's Church

St Mary or St Mother of God church was built in 1087 on the top of a covered mausoleum. It was considerably damaged during the 1931 earthquake but was restored later.

"Wings of Tatev" Cableway

In 2010 a cableway was launched linking Halidzor village and Tatev monastery over a gorge. The cableway spans 5.7 km (3.5 mi) and has set a Guinness World Record as the world's longest 2-way cableway. The construction funding was provided by an Armenian businessman and entrepreneur R. Vardanyan but this is not a commercial project. The money raised from ticket sales goes to the monastery's restoration works and the development of the local community. Some facts about the cableway you may have wanted to know:

  • it takes about 12 minutes to get from one terminal to another
  • At the cablecar's maximum height you'll be 320 m (1050 ft) above the ground level
  • The maximum number of people a cable car can accommodate is 30 + 1 steward(ess)
  • One way ride is non-stop.
  • Operating hours: every day 9 am - 8 pm in the summer, all days except Mondays. 10 am - 6/7pm during the rest of the year

Cablecars provide a wide aerial view thanks to transparent doors and windows. You'll have a wonderful panoramic view while listening to interesting facts in 3 languages (English included) about the surroundings as you gradually approach them.