Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley

Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley

The monastery of Geghard (Armenian: Գեղարդ, meaning spear) is a unique architectural construction in the Kotayk province of Armenia, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

While the main chapel was built in 1215, the monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave. The monastery had thus been originally named Ayrivank, meaning “the Monastery of the Cave”. The name commonly used for the monastery today, Geghard, or more fully Geghardavank (Գեղարդավանք), meaning “the Monastery of the Spear”, originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, called here Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics. Now it is displayed in the Echmiadzin treasury.

The spectacular towering cliffs surrounding the monastery are part of the Azat river gorge, and are included together with the monastery in the World Heritage Site listing. Some of the churches within the monastery complex are entirely dug out of the cliff rocks, others are little more than caves, while others are elaborate structures, with both architecturally complex walled sections and rooms deep inside the cliff. The combination, together with numerous engraved and free-standing khachkars is a unique sight, being one of the most frequented tourist destinations in Armenia.

Most visitors to Geghard also choose to visit the nearby Garni temple, a Parthenon-like structure located further down the Azat river. Visiting both sites in one trip is so common that they are often referred to in unison as Garni-Geghard.

Outline
The monastery of Geghard (Armenian: Գեղարդ, meaning spear) is a unique architectural construction in the Kotayk province of Armenia, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs.

Recommended world heritage video

  1. Historic Centres of Stralsund and Wismar

    Historic Centres of Stralsund and Wismar

  2. Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns

    Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns

  3. Alhambra

    Alhambra

  1. The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs, La Louvière and Le Roeulx (Hainault)

    The Four Lifts on the Canal du Centre and their Environs, La Louvière and Le Roeulx (Hainault)

  2. Central Zone of the Town of Angra do Heroismo in the Azores

    Central Zone of the Town of Angra do Heroismo in the Azores

  3. Historic Centre of Riga

    Historic Centre of Riga

  1. Porto Venere

    Porto Venere

  2. Acropolis of Athens

    Acropolis of Athens

  3. Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes

    Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes

  1. Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe

    Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe

  2. Ironbridge Gorge

    Ironbridge Gorge

  3. Litomyšl Castle

    Litomyšl Castle

  1. Works of Antoni Gaudí

    Works of Antoni Gaudí

  2. Historic Centre of Évora

    Historic Centre of Évora

  3. Hanseatic City of Lübeck

    Hanseatic City of Lübeck

  1. Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid

    Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid

  2. La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle, watchmaking town planning

    La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle, watchmaking town planning

  3. Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto)

    Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto)

  1. Levoča, Spišský Hrad and the Associated Cultural Monuments

    Levoča, Spišský Hrad and the Associated Cultural Monuments

  2. Ensemble of the Ferrapontov Monastery

    Ensemble of the Ferrapontov Monastery

  3. Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna

    Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna

  1. Old Rauma

    Old Rauma

  2. Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias

    Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias

  3. Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct

    Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct

  1. Works of Antoni Gaudí

    Works of Antoni Gaudí

  2. Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Remi and Palace of Tau, Reims

    Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Remi and Palace of Tau, Reims

  3. Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona

    Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona

  1. Tower of Hercules

    Tower of Hercules

  2. Wachau Cultural Landscape

    Wachau Cultural Landscape

  3. Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht

    Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht

  1. Acropolis, Athens

    Acropolis, Athens

  2. Old City of Zamość

    Old City of Zamość

  3. Pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island

    Pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island

  1. The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes

    The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes

  2. Historic Walled Town of Cuenca

    Historic Walled Town of Cuenca

  3. Palmeral of Elche

    Palmeral of Elche

  1. Costiera Amalfitana

    Costiera Amalfitana

  2. Røros Mining Town and the Circumference

    Røros Mining Town and the Circumference

  3. Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon

    Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon

facebook comments
Comment
To the Top