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Areni winery and Noravank

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Noravank (lit. “New Monastery”) is situated 120 km (75 mi) South-East from Yerevan. It was built in 13th – 14th centuries Noravank is most notably linked with the famous medieval Armenian architect and sculptor Momik. Momik started out as a miniature painter in Cilician Armenia. Later he was invited to Noravank by Orbelyan prince where he authored the architecture and sculptures of St Astvatsatsin church. The khachkars in the area of monastery also belong to his legacy.

Noravank Monastery Buildings

  • St Astvatsatsin (Mother of God) Mausoleum-Church – Was built in 1339 as family tomb monument of Orbelyan princes.
  • St Stephan (Stepanos) Church with linked narthex (Gavit) – Was built during the years of 1216 – 1223. The main building of the complex. 1840 earthquake has destroyed its dome.
  • St Gregory Church –Was built in 1275 by the architect named Siranes. The defining feature of this church were the rich frescos coving the walls and the ceiling of which only the ceiling frescos are preserved.
  • Ruins of medieval chapels and minor buildings.

To procure the red color for the frescos a paint called “Vordan Karmir” was used. The paint derives its name from special red insects common in Ararat valley. These insects were the main ingredient of the paint. This paint had widespread fame in the Middle Ages as its uses ranged from miniature painting and frescos to cloth painting. It used to be exported to other countries up until China via the “Silk Road”.

Short History

Noravank has been a prosperous center of its time frequented by famous Armenian religious and political leaders. The monastery was founded in 1105 by a priest of Vahanavank near the city of Kapan. In the following years, the monastery has been expanded by an influential family in Syunik region called Orbelyans. It then became a religious, cultural and educational center as well as the family cemetery of Orbelyans.

The Legend

Young master architect Momik fell in love with the daughter of a Syunik prince. The girl reciprocated him. When he paid a visit to the prince to ask for his daughter’s hand the prince agreed to accept their marriage with a single condition. Momik had to build a beautiful church for him in 3 years. The young architect agreed to the terms and started the work by cutting big rocks off the nearby cliffs. When he was about to finish his part of the deal the prince sent his servant to push him down the dome. Thus his last polished stone became his gravestone. A sad legend indeed but those were uneasy times after all.

Areni Winery

Areni village formerly known as Arpa is famous for the discovery of prehistoric wine production site. The remarkable discoveries about the world’s oldest wine-making tools were announced in 2011 by the group of Irish-Armenian archeologists during the Areni-1 cave excavations. The discovered array of wine-making pots, grape seeds, and other Copper Age artifacts are dated to 4000 BCE! The “Areni-1 winery”, as it later became known, was discovered seven months after the world’s oldest leather shoe was found in the same cave. The 6000 years old winery contained wine press, fermentation vats, jars, cups, grape seeds, remains of pressed grapes, prunes and walnuts. The cave was apparently abandoned when its roof collapsed.

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