Visit the pearl of Medieval Armenia nestled within a breathtaking valley.
Armenia, the world’s first Christian nation, is home to the 9th-century Tatev Monastery, an Armenian Apostolic monastery located near Tatev Village in the Syunik Province. It sits atop a large basalt plateau and carries a rich history. In the 11th century, Tatev hosted around 1,000 monks and a number of artisans. It suffered significant damage during the Seljuk invasions and the earthquake of 1135. Later on in the 12th century, in 1170, the Seljuk Turks pillaged the Monastery, burning 10,000 manuscripts. The Monastery was rebuilt thanks to the efforts of Bishop Stepanos nearly a century later.
Later in history, Tatev Monastery hosted one of the most important Armenian medieval universities. The University of Tatev contributed a great deal to the advancement of religion, philosophy, science, and the reproduction of books and miniature paintings. Scholars of this university contributed to its preservation and that of Armenian culture during the most unsettling times in history.
Legend has it that Tatev Monastery is named after Eustateus, who was a disciple of St. Thaddeus the Apostle, who preached and was martyred in this region. Another legend of an event tied to the construction of the main church is where an apprentice secretly climbs atop the steeple to place a cross he designed. The apprentice is spotted by his master during his descent, is surprised, and loses his foothold. He falls into the abyss calling upon God to grant him wings, which in Armenian is ‘Ta Tev’.
Modern history hasn’t been too kind to this stunning structure, as it was reborn and restored in the 17th and 18th centuries, looted again in the 18th century, and suffered serious damage in the 20th century during an earthquake in 1931. In the late 20th century, the site was added to the tentative list of World Heritage sites by UNESCO.
The Wings of Tatev, a cableway from Tatev to Halidzor village, was opened in 2010 and included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest non-stop double track reversible aerial tramway. The amazing trip takes you 5,750 meters or over 3.5 miles. Taking the journey in these cable cars leads you not only to view the incredible scenery of the region, but directly to the monastery.