Tatev Monastery: A Journey to Spiritual and Natural Wonders

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Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Armenia, the Tatev Monastery and the Wings of Tatev Ropeway offer visitors a unique blend of spiritual and natural wonders. Let’s embark on a journey to explore these two remarkable destinations and uncover the stories they hold.

Tatev Monastery:
Perched on the edge of a deep gorge, the Tatev Monastery is a symbol of Armenia’s rich spiritual heritage. Founded in the 9th century, the monastery has served as a center of learning, art, and religion for centuries. Its stunning architecture, with its intricate carvings and domed churches, is a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of Armenian artisans.

The monastery’s location, overlooking the Vorotan River gorge, adds to its mystique and grandeur. Legend has it that Tatev was once home to a sacred spring, believed to have healing properties. Pilgrims would travel from far and wide to drink from its waters and seek solace in its tranquil surroundings.

The Wings of Tatev Ropeway:
To reach the Tatev Monastery, visitors can embark on a breathtaking journey aboard the Wings of Tatev Ropeway. This aerial tramway, one of the longest in the world, offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape as it glides over the gorge.

The ropeway, which spans a distance of 5.7 kilometers, was built to provide easier access to the monastery and to promote tourism in the region. It has become a popular attraction in its own right, offering visitors a unique perspective on the natural beauty of Armenia.

Legends and Mysteries:
The Tatev Monastery and the Wings of Tatev Ropeway are steeped in legend and mystery. According to one legend, the monastery was founded by Saint Gregory the Illuminator, who was guided to the site by a divine vision. Another tale speaks of a hidden treasure within the monastery’s walls, waiting to be discovered by those who seek it.

Tatev Monastery:
Tatev (lit. “Give Wings”) is one of the best known and most visited monasteries in Armenia. Tatev is a 9th-century complex located 280 km (174 mi) away from the capital on the edge of a cliff with a spectacular view on the gorge of Vorotan river.

Short History:
In the 14th – 15th centuries Tatev was a prominent scholarly center of Armenia hosting a University where fields such as science, theology, and philosophy prospered. Developments of calligraphy and painting resulted in the creation of new manuscripts and copying of older ones as well as miniature painting (colorful illustration of manuscripts)

The Legend:
There is a legend explaining the origin of the name “Tatev”: when the construction of the cathedral was finished a young monk secretly climbed the dome of the church to mount a cross of his own making. On his way down he was spotted by a master priest so he panicked and fell off the wall into the abyss. While falling down he prayed to God to give him wings hence the name “Ta Tev” which literally means Give Wings.

Monastery Buildings:
Within the confines of the monastery complex, there are 3 churches, a library, refectory, belfry, mausoleum, and other minor buildings.

St Paul and St Peter Church:
This church was built during 895 and 906 AD. It is named after Christ’s 2 apostles. There is a khachkar on the western wall of the church bearing important historical details related to the construction of the church. In 930 inside of the walls were decorated with frescos depicting nativity scenes, Christ surrounded with apostles and angels, the Judgement Day and so on. Only a small part of those frescos survived the challenge of time.

St Gregory the Illuminator Church:
This church was built during 836 – 848 AD. The church collapsed in the earthquake of 1138 but was rebuilt a century and a half later. The church has an unpretentious architecture, simple ornaments near the entrance and no-dome structure.

St Mary’s Church:
St Mary or St Mother of God church was built in 1087 on the top of a covered mausoleum. It was considerably damaged during the 1931 earthquake but was restored later.

“Wings of Tatev” Cableway:
In 2010 a cableway was launched linking Halidzor village and Tatev monastery over a gorge. The cableway spans 5.7 km (3.5 mi) and has set a Guinness World Record as the world’s longest 2-way cableway. The construction funding was provided by an Armenian businessman and entrepreneur R. Vardanyan but this is not a commercial project. The money raised from ticket sales goes to the monastery’s restoration works and the development of the local community. Some facts about the cableway you may have wanted to know:

it takes about 12 minutes to get from one terminal to another
At the cablecar’s maximum height you’ll be 320 m (1050 ft) above the ground level
The maximum number of people a cable car can accommodate is 30 + 1 steward(ess)
One way ride is non-stop.

Operating hours: every day 9 am – 8 pm in the summer, all days except Mondays. 10 am – 6/7pm during the rest of the year
Cablecars provide a wide aerial view thanks to transparent doors and windows. You’ll have a wonderful panoramic view while listening to interesting facts in 3 languages (English included) about the surroundings as you gradually approach them.

The Tatev Monastery is not just a historical landmark; it is a living testament to Armenia’s enduring spirit and cultural heritage. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a spiritual seeker, or simply a traveler in search of new experiences, a visit to these two remarkable destinations promises an unforgettable journey through Armenia’s ancient marvels. As you explore the monastery, ride the ropeway, and take in the stunning views, you’ll discover the timeless beauty and rich history that make Armenia a truly unique destination.

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