YEREVAN-TATEV MONASTERY-ZORATS KARER (KARAHUNJ)-YEREVAN

TATEV MONASTERY

Tatev Monastery The jewel of medieval Armenian architecture, Tatev, was constructed in the 9th-13th centuries. The access to it is very complicated due to the terrain features. Nevertheless, the true lovers of unique ancient monuments do find ways to visit this masterpiece of medieval architecture. Tatev Monastery is in the centre of the marz of Syunik near the village of the same name, on the right elevated bank of the river Vorotan. Before climbing this breathtaking height it is necessary to go down the 500-m canyon of the Vorotan, to linger on the natural Devilish Bridge (two riverbanks converge forming a “bridge”), near the warm mineral springs and then to go up the mountain road. After a few turns you'll see the monastery, the powerful impregnable stronghold towering on a rock. Such remote position of it was strategically favorable as the monastery was simultaneously religious and political centre of Syunik Principality. The monastery was also the residence of Syunik Bishop with vast lands, craft workshops; it even collected taxes from hundreds of villages. In the 13th-14th centuries the monastery was prospering. It was the time of the Tatev University, the largest centre of philosophy and science of medieval Armenia. The monastery was named so in the honor of St. Eustathius, the pupil of St. Thaddeus. Like his teacher he preached Christianity, and met his martyr death for the new faith in Syunik. Besides, “tatev” meant ‘gime me wings” in old Armenian. Indeed, located at such a height, Tatev loos as if it reaches for the sky. Its walls seem natural continuation of the rock which uplifted it so high. The monastery was practically destroyed by the earthquake but it was restored in the 17th century. Today the architectural complex is presented to us in all its greatness. The center of the complex is occupied by St. Peter and Paul Church (Surb Pogos Petros), the main and largest structure of the monastery. The church looks as if "growing" on the entire perimeter from the stone base and gives special grandeur to the composition. The temple was constructed in 906. The architecture of the cathedral is a little archaic; however, in it possesses some new lines. Especially noticeable are big external volumes of the church dome, and the high round drum topped with umbellate dome. The bas-reliefs decorating the windows are interesting - each of them is a human face with snakes' heads facing them. The huge cathedral used to be painted with frescos which have partially survived. The most ancient church is St. Gregory the Illuminator Temple. It was constructed in 848 by Syunik prince Pilipos; he also presented Tatev village to the monastery. The temple adjoins the south side of the main cathedral, St. Peter and Paul Church. The cult monument, Gavazan (Staff), is among the number of unique works of architectural-engineering art of Armenia. It was erected in 904 in the court yard, near the monastery premises. This octahedral column made of small stones has the height of 8 m; its top is finished with ornate eaves with a khachkar on top. St. Astvatsatsin church-over-the-gate (1087) is a rare example of Armenian architecture in terms of its location. It has a small domed hall with niches on every facade except for the western one with tapered umbrella-type roof. The church is surrounded by the rooms of the prior, belfry, vaulted refectory with a kitchen, pantries, dwellings and premises built in the 7 th – 18 th centuries. Silently floating over the surrounding mountains, Tatev is very impressive. The labyrinths of the narrow passages leading from spacious halls to other premises of unidentified purposes, the outlines of niches showing through the darkness, stone staircases, arched doorways to nowhere.. Standing on the edge of it takes your breath away - somewhere down below the river flows and crowded velvet green hills. Wings of Tatev aerial tramway is total ride time from Halidzor station to Tatev monastery is about 12 minutes; a much shorter trip than the 40 minute ride along the steep serpentine road that follows the Vorotan gorge. Flying over the gorge, the aerial tramway cabin reaches its maximum height of 320 meters. When the first cabin reaches the Tatev station, the second one arrives at the Halidzor station. After the Wings are reloaded, the movement starts again in the opposite direction. Each cabin accommodates 30 passengers and one steward. The ropeway can accommodate about 240 passengers per hour. Powerful pillars divide the ropeway into four sections. The longest section is 2.7 km and affords a spectacular view of the Tatev monastic complex.

Zorats Karer is also known as Carahunge, Karahunj, Qarahunj. It is located in an area of around 7 hectares and covers the site nearby the Dar river canyon, close to the city of Sisan. The ancient site is often called the ''Armenian Stonehenge'', but the truth of what it is may be even more fascinating. According to researchers, Zorats Karer could be among the world's oldest astronomical observatories, and is at least 3,500 years older than British Stonehenge.

The site was rediscovered in 1984 by a team led by researcher Onik Khnkikyan. After a few months of work, Khnkikyan concluded that the site of Zorats Karer must have been an observatory. Moreover, with time, Armenian archeologists, astronomers and astrophysicists found that there were at least two other ancient sites important for prehistoric astronomy in the vicinity: Angeghakot and Metzamor.

In 1994, Zorats Karer was extensively analyzed by Professor Paris Herouni, a member of the Armenian National Academy of Science and President of the Radio Physics Research Institute in Yerevan. His expeditions revealed a great deal of fascinating information about the site. First of all, his team counted 223 stones, of which 84 were found to have holes. They measured the longitude, latitude and the magnetic deviation of the site. The researchers also created a topographical map of the monumental megalithic construction, which became the basis of further work.  Finally, the main treasure of the site was unearthed- a collection of many impressive and unique astronomical objects. The researchers realized that several stones were used to make observations of the sun, moon and stars. They were located according to knowledge about the rising, culmination moments, and setting of the sun, moon and specific stars.

The duration of the excursion is 8 hours

Excursion price

Number of Persons

1

2-3

4-7

8-17

Price (USD) for one person

300

160

97

68

The excursion price does not include:

The tour includes: