Tatev Monastery or Wings of Tatev, is a medieval monastery in the Republic of Armenia. It is located on a large plateau in the south of Tatev village, Syunik province where you can find a famous ropeway that takes you to the monastery.
Today, Tatev Monastery is one of the main tourist attractions in Armenia. Tatev is not just simply a monastery. It has a long history and played a great role in Armenia for a very long time.
Tatev has been also an educational institution, it had oil mill, which survived till our days and is available for tourists to see.
The second biggest attraction is Tatev ropeway, or as many people call it “Wings of Tatev”. There is so much to know about Tatev and so much to see there. So, before going for a tour, let’s discover some important things about it.
The Hisotry of Tatev Monastery
According to Stepanos Orbelian, author of the “The History of Syunik province”, the first church of the monastery was built in the 4th century.
Very few hermit monks lived in the monastery at first. At the end of the 8th century, it was the Syunik bishopric seat.
In the late Middle Ages, the fortified Tatev Monastery had a great strategic importance. It was one of the significant centers of Syunik liberation struggle, as well as Zangezur defense. As a result of the 1931 earthquake, the complex was completely destroyed.
The University of Tatev Monastery was leveled. In 1974-1998, most of the monastery was restored. However, the bell tower and several other buildings nearby, including a portion of the wall, still remain unfinished.
The territory of Tatev monastery is indeed enormous. The monastic complex is comprised of the following parts:
- Barrier walls
- A mill
- The Poghos Petros Cathedral
- St. Astvatsatsin
- St. Grigor Churches
- Grigor Tatevatsi mausoleum
- Dining hall
- Pilgrim inn
- Numerous service buildings and monk cells
Tatev Monastery: Oil Mill
The oil mill has two large rooms and a huge stone, which was used to make oil by pressing herbs and flowers. The holy oil made here is called muron in Armenian. Oil was also made for defensive purposes.
Tatev Monastery: The Outer Walls
Outer walls were built in 9th century, later restored in 18-20th centuries, maintaining the original structure. As in other fortresses, adjacent to the walls residential and economic buildings were constructed.
However, the walls are not as high as they used to be in the past (were 20 meters). The old entry is closed now, although the arch is still visible. The eastern entry is near the small tower and goes through St. Astvatsatsin church.
Tatev Monastery: St. Astvatsatsin church
Saint Astvatsatsin church is one of the buildings in the monastery. This small chapel-church was built in the 11th century. The structure of the church is not very much characteristic to Armenian churches. It is a two-story vertical building. The entrance is decorated with a beautiful wooden door.
Tatev Monastery: St Yevstateos church
The oldest building in the monastic complex is St Yevstateos church. This church of pre-Christian period, was built in the site of St. Yevstateos apostle’s relics. In the first century, Yevstateos together with St. Tadeos preached Christianity in Armenia.
Wings of Tatev: The Longest Ropeway
In 2010 the longest ropeway in the world, Wings of Tatev (5.5 km) was opened, which contributes to the development of tourism in the region. The ropeway links Halidzor and the Tatev Monastery.
Being built only in one section, it is the longest reversible aerial tramway and holds the record for the longest non-stop double track cable car. The ropeway was put into operation on October 16, 2010.
All the income of Wings of Tatev aerial tramway is spent to the “Tatev Revival” Fund, which was created to encourage the reconstruction of the monastery and the development of the local community.
Since the Wings of Tatev aerial tramway was put into operation, the number of tourists visiting Tatev increased tenfold.
Wings of Tatev: Working Schedule and Price
As mentioned earlier wings of Tatev is the longest ropeway in the world, which attracts tourist from all over the world. The ropeway operates with the following schedule:
- 10:00-19:00 (depending on the season and the month)
Costs of tickets also vary depending on the month, and, whether it is one way or with return.
How to Get to Tatev Monastery and Wings of Tatev?
Tatev monastery is 250 kilometers away from the capital city Yerevan. Getting there takes 3.5-4 hours. If you have decided to visit this treasure of Armenia, you just need to take a bus to Goris from Tigran Mets street in Yerevan (Rossia).
Places to Visit on The Way to Tatev Monastery
If you have a tour to Tatev monastery, you will have the unique opportunity to visit other touristic sites of Armenia as well. One of them, which is on the way to Tatev is Khor Virap monastery, one of the ancient Christian monasteries.
The monastery had an underground prison, where Gregory the Illuminator was held. The expression khor virap in Armenian means deep hole, which is where saint Gregory was kept. From the monastery, you can enjoy the fantastic view of biblical Ararat.
The next spot to visit is Areni village, where one of the oldest wineries in the world Areni winery is situated, having history of 6000 years.
If you have the chance to be there during wine festival (first Saturday of October), you’ll be able to taste different homemade Armenian wine by the best wine producers, enjoy traditional and folk songs, participate in flash mob dances and make the most fun of your trip.
Other places of interest are Noravank monastery, located in the city Yeghegnadzor and Zorats Qarer (Qarahunj), a megalithic complex of numerous stones, which in ancient times were also used for sunrise and sunset observations.
Name origin of Tatev Monastery
There are two stories concerning the name of Tatev Monastery. According to one of them, name “Tatev” originates from the Armenian expression “give wings” (տա թև-ta tev).
Upon completion of the construction, master stonemason, addressing the workers, asked for two kindlings. Receiving what he asked for, the master kissed them and said, ‘Let the Holy Spirit give wings.’ On saying these words, wings grew on his shoulders. The Master flew in an unknown destination.
The workers couldn’t do without their master. After a while they heard that he was in Constantinople. They sent the locals to ask the Master to return to the Monstery. However, he didn’t come back. So, the Monastery was named Tatev upon the words of the Master, ‘Let the Holy Spirit give wings’.
According to the second version of the name origin, the monastery was called after Tadeos apostle’s disciple Yevstateos.
He had been tortured to death in these places and in the 4th century, a church was built on his grave, which was consecrated by St. Gregory the Illuminator. The ruins of the church are preserved behind the fortress outer walls, which are not very far from Tatev Monastery.
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