Tatev Monastery

Monastery in Tatev

Perched on the edge of a rocky canyon, the monastery at Tatev has jaw-dropping views over to the peaks of Karabakh. The bishops of Syunik built its main church, Surp Poghos-Petros (St Paul and St Peter), in the 9th century to house important relics. There are faint signs of frescoes, intricate carvings and portraits of the main donors on the northern side. The 11th-century Surp Grigor Church nestles next to it, and there’s a miniaturised chapel above the gatehouse.

At the monastery’s peak some 600 monks lived and worked in the complex, and national icon Surp Grigor Tatevatsi (St Gregory of Tatev; 1346–1409) is buried here.

In the courtyard, look for the 8m octagonal pillar topped by a khachkar. The 9th-century monument is said to have predicted seismic activity (or the roar of hooves by approaching armies) by shifting.

The fortifications, added in the 17th century, have been restored and are full of dining halls, towers and libraries. Outside the main gate there is an oil press exhibit with a display of seeds, tools and ancient machinery used in the process of oil extraction.