Gandzasar monastery is one of the most important tourist attractions in Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. It is truly the most beautiful monastery in the region and a destination during your stay in Armenia.
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is an ancient land with breathtaking and amazing natural beauty, spiritual values and a great amount of tourist attractions.
One of them is the historical Gandzasar Monastery that has become the most popular and beloved destination for tourists and pilgrims.
So, if you want to learn more about this majestic place, then just stay tuned with us.
Holy See of Gandzasar Monastery of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Gandzasar Monastery is situated in the Mardakert District of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, standing atop of the large green hill called Mount Gandzasar near the historical village of Vank.
Gandzasar Monastery was first mentioned in the records of the tenth century. But the foundation of Gandzasar’s Cathedral of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist) goes back to 1216. The monastery shared the stormy history of the Armenian people and was attacked several times, mostly by Mongol invaders.
However, it has been reconstructed and is now a fully functioning monastery. Nowadays, Gandzasar is the seat of the Archbishop of Artsakh designated by the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
As such, it is known as the Holy See of Gandzasar. It played a significant role in political, cultural and religious life of Armenia. Moreover, Gandzasar’s power became visibly stronger under its leader Katholikos Yesai Hasan-Jalalian and his descendants.
Gandzasar Monastery: Tourist Information
How to Get to Gandzasar
Already looking forward to visit Gandzasar monastery in Mardakert? Then we can offer several options for traveling to Nagorno-Karabakh and enjoying its historical-architectural monuments, such as the Gandzasar Monastery and many others.
- Firstly, you can take a taxi that will drive via the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor or through the Karvajar (Kelbajar) pass that will cost you around 100USD.
- Secondly, you can go there by buses (marshrutka) that run from Yerevan central bus station and cost about 4500AMD.
- Some tour agencies can also provide guided tours to Nagorno-Karabakh, but prepare to pay 100–150USD. If you are planning to visit the place with your friends, then the right option will be renting a minivan.
Where to Stay During Your Visit to Gandzasar?
There are some quite good hotels to stay during your visit in Karabakh that are just a few kilometers away from Gandzasar monastery.
Hotel Tsovin Qar (Sea Stone) is on the right bank of the river Khachen and is surrounded by picturesque woods. Some rooms have balconies that are overlooking these forests.
During your stay, you will feel the spirit of wild nature and the flavor of national cuisine of Nagorno-Karabakh. The hotel has an open-air restaurant, a cozy little restaurant, and a tavern where you can enjoy peaceful rural evenings.
Not far away from this hotel there is another great option called Eclectica. Among residents it is also known as Titanic due to its unique architecture in the form of a ship and with original interior. The hotel has 18 rooms, a bar in marine style, a restaurant, cafes, riding hall for horses, table tennis, etc.
On the area of these two hotels there are some amazing monuments and sculptures. One of them is the sculpture of a lion that is built out of rock, and is a perfect place for taking pictures.
Gandzasar Monastery: History and Architectural Value
Virtual Tour in Gandzasar
Fairly, people sometimes call the monastery “the greatest miracle of the Armenian architecture”, “historical treasure”. Those who have been there can claim that all these phrases are rally powerless for describing this breathtaking monastery.
The architectural style is quite similar to other medieval churches of Armenia but this one is considered as one of the masterpieces of Armenian architecture. Gandzasar’s temple is surrounded and protected by high stone walls.
The complex includes the church and the vestibule. The most imposing of the structure of the monastery is the Cathedral of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich. It is a big church with a high cupola. It looks majestic and sophisticated with exclusively rich interior and exterior decorations, such as sculpted decors, original bas-reliefs.
The foundations of the church were laid in 1216 by the initiative of Prince Hasan Jalal Vahtangian the Magnificent. As it is known, the foundation of the church was completed in 1238. The vestibule a rectangular construction with some beautiful decorations, like stalactites, chess rosettes, rhombuses and so on.
Where Does the Name “Gandzasar” Come from?
In Armenian “Gandzasar” means “Treasure Mountain”, that is to say “gandz” stands for “treasure” and “sar” for “mountain”. Nonetheless, there is a doubt that by saying treasure we mean the monastery itself that is decorating the mountain and has a great architectural and historical value.
Besides, it is believed that Gandzasar’s Cathedral holds a very important and key Christian relic, head of St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist). Overall, Gandzasar monastery has always been an important and popular place of pilgrimage not only in Armenia and Nagorno-Kharabakh but from all over the world.
There are some captivating legends and miracles connected with this place. The most interesting of them is the one that happened in the period of Nagorno-Karabakh war during the heavy bombardment by Azerbaijani army.
Luckily or miraculously, the shells that were flying right on the cupola of the monastery suddenly changed their direction and exploded away from the territory of the monastery. Almost everybody who visits Gandzasar is convinced that it is impossible to leave this place and stay an atheist.
What to See on the Way to Gandzasar?
By far, along with Gandzasar Monastery there are many other historical, cultural and religious landmarks in Nagorno-Kharabakh that are must-see places for all the visitors of the country.
Down below you can see some key places that you should visit on your way to Gandzasar that will make your journey even more memorable and pleasing.
The full list isn’t limited and you can always find something new to see and discover in this wonderful land, these are just some tips that will make your journey much easier.
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