Welcome to Khor Virap Monastery

The monastery is on a hillock close to the Araks River, overlooking river pastures, stork nests and vineyards, 4km off the main highway through the village of Pokr Vedi (sometimes also called Khor Virap).

The pagan King Trdat III imprisoned St Gregory the Illuminator (Surp Grigor Lusavorich) in a well (khor virap means ‘deep well’) here for 12 years, where Christian women secretly fed him. The king was later cursed by madness (or, in a more colourful version of the tale, cursed by sprouting the head of a boar) and miraculously cured by St Gregory. Historians contend that Trdat may have switched allegiances to tap into the strength of Armenia’s growing Christian community in the face of Roman aggression. In any case the king converted to Christianity and St Gregory became the first Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and set about building churches on top of pagan temples and teaching the faith.

The ground-level buildings at Khor Virap have been repeatedly rebuilt since at least the 6th century, and the main Surp Astvatsatsin Church dates from the 17th century. Khor Virap is an important pilgrimage site and people often visit for a baptism or after a wedding to perform a matagh (sacrifice, often of sheep or chicken), which keeps the priests busy on weekends. It’s a shivery experience to climb down the 7m-deep well. The well is lit, but you need to wear sturdy shoes to scale the metal ladder. Just outside the monastery walls are some excavations on the site of Artashat, Trdat’s capital, founded in the 2nd century BC.

The Armash Fish Ponds, 25km downstream from Khor Virap near the border town of Yeraskh, are home to a great variety of migrating birds in spring and autumn as well as local species.

Top experiences in Khor Virap Monastery

Khor Virap Monastery activities

$1125 Multi-day & Extended Tours

8-Day Armenia and Georgia Tour

Armenia and Georgia have wonderful nature, immortal monuments, oriental hospitality, unique ethnic cuisine, fascinating folk music and dances and warm, family atmosphere. Your will have unforgettable impressions and enjoy warm atmosphere.Day 1:Pick up from Zvartnots International Airport and transfer to Yerevan. Welcome Evening. Evening walk in the city.Day 2:Breakfast in the Hotel. Tour to Khor Virap Monastery. The monastery is famous for its location, especially for the view of the Biblical Mount Ararat. Tour to Noravank Monastery. Lunch at the “Garandzav”Cave restaurant. Visit Jermuk: the natural mineral water resort of Armenia. Return to Yerevan.Day 3:Breakfast in the hotel . Tour to Geghard medieval monastery, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Participation in Armenian bread “Lavash” baking. Tour to pagan temple Garni. Continue to the blue eyed pearl of Armenia-Sevan lake. Lunch in a restaurant next to the lake. Overnight in Dilijan.Day 4:Breakfast in the hotel . Visit to Haghartsin Monastery (X- XIV centuries). A trip to Haghpat Monastery (10th c.) and Sanahin monastic complex (10th c.), both are included in the UNESCO's World Heritage List. Drive to Tbilisi. Evening dinner and overnight in Tbilisi.Day 5:Breakfast in the hotel. Visit Jvari temple. Visit Mtskheta city, which is the first capital of Georgia. The main three sites in this city are Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Samtavro Temple, Bebris Tsikhe Fortress. Uplistsikhe Cave town, which was founded in 1000 BC and was a sacred temple spot during pre-Christian period. Lunch in a restaurant. Return to Tbilisi.Day 6:Breakfast in the hotel. Visit Sighnaghi. The city is famous for the production of wine and traditional carpets and also for its unique nature and architecture. Sighnaghi is known as a "Love City" in Georgia. Visit Bodbe Convent where the first apostle of Georgia St. Nino is buried, St. Stephen and St. George churches and finally walk the narrow and interesting streets. Dinner in Tbilisi.Day 7:Breakfast in the hotel . Tbilisi sightseeing including Old Tbilisi, Shota Rustaveli avenue, Sharden’s street, the Bridge of Peace, Metekhi Church (13th c.), Narikala fortress (4th c.), monument "Kartlis Mother" ("Mother Georgia"), monument to Vakhtang Gorgosali, founder of Tbilisi. Tbilisi Funicular at Mount Mtatsminda, where you can enjoy panoramic view of the city. Good bye dinner with national music and dances. Return to the hotel.Day 8:Breakfast in the hotel. Check out and transfer to Tbilisi International Airport.

$26.11 Day Trips & Excursions

Small-group Tour Khor Virap, Areni Cave, Noravank, Areni Winery, Traditional Lunch

Although there are various historical landmarks in Armenia, the oldest and most well-known is probably the Biblical Mount Ararat. This is why our tour promises a spectacular view from the closest spot possible. The Khor Virap monastery is located about an hour’s drive away from the capital Yerevan, and offers an amazing view of Armenia’s defining symbol – the majestic Ararat. “Khor Virap” translates as “deep dungeon”, and was built of the place of the former royal prison, located on the historical site of Artashat.  It was this very prison in which they kept Gregory the Illuminator, the first Armenian Catholicos, for a whole 13 years. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that this place is one of the most sacred spots for Armenians around the world. Likewise, it’s also the closest point to the Mount Ararat from Armenia; very often this spot becomes the number 1 reason to visit our country! Aside from Khor Virap, another place that can’t be missed is Noravank. It is one of the gems of medieval Armenian architecture, nestled high among the stunning brick-red cliffs in the end of the Gnishik Canyon.  Here you will see the one and only depiction of God the Father in Armenia, which is just as astonishing as the face of Jesus Christ that appeared on the dome of the Church’s narthex. Built by Orbelian noblemen, it stands out among our churches as the sepulcher of this noble family, making it unique since it was absolutely prohibited to bury people inside a church since the 5th century. A 15 minutes’ drive back from the monastery of Noravank will take you to the Bird’s Cave. In 2008, archeologists discovered several of the world’s oldest artifacts, including a leather shoe and a winery. The site, overlooking Arpa River near the town of Areni, is claimed to date mostly to the Early Bronze Age (around 5,000-6,000 years ago). It also contains evidence of elaborate burial rituals and agricultural practices. What concerns the “finishing touch” to this tour, you will be given a chance to taste and even purchase Armenia’s renowned Areni wine made from the oldest grape variety in the whole world. The wine is available in several wineries in the actual town of Areni. There will be traditional lunch served in a local restaurant.

$127 Day Trips & Excursions

Khor Virap Monastery, Etchmiadzin, Machanents tourism and art, Zvartnots

During this one - day tour you will visit Khor Virap, one of the three holy places in Armenia and the closest point to the mount Ararat. The notability as a monastery and pilgrimage site of the monastery is attributed to the fact that Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned here for 13 years, holy city Etchmiadzin, where the Mother Cathedral, St. Gayane, St. Hripsime churches are located. We will also visit Machanents tourism and art which offers green hospitality, master classes, cultural entertainment, souvenir shop, etc. Thus, the list of the places you will visit: 1. Khor Virap Monastery2. St. Gayane Church3. St. Hripsime Church4. Etchmiadzin Cathedral5. Zvartnots Cathedral6. Machanents tourism and art

$118 Day Trips & Excursions

Khor Virap Monastery, Noravank Monastery, Areni, Jermuk

This time our destination is Vayots Dzor region. The first stop will be in Khor Virap, then in Areni, where we will taste different types of wines, and after that we’ll leave for the masterpiece of architecture Noravank monastery, which will admire everyone with its beauty.Continuing our way we will visit Jermuk city, which is famous with its health resorts. Then we will taste mineral waters of different temperature and will visit famous waterfall in Jermuk city called “Mermaid hair”.Here is the schedule of the tour:1. Khor Virap Monastery2.  Paruyr Sevak’s house-museum3. Areni- wine tasting4. Noravank Monastery5. Jermuk cityEnjoy a beautiful, sunny day and fresh air together with ONE WAY TOUR.P.S. Paruyr Sevak’s house-museum entrance fee is 300 AMD.

$74 Cultural & Theme Tours

Private Half-Day Khor Virap Monastery Tour from Yerevan

The starting point and time of the tour can tailored to your preferences. Journey to the Southern part of Armenia to visit Khor Virap monastery, Armenia's most famous pilgrimage site. Enjoy a guided tour of the historic monastery, including a stunning view of the Biblical Mount Ararat, and learn more about Saint Gregory the Illuminator, King Trdat the 3rd, and the history of Christianity in Armenia.Your tour ends back in Yerevan.

$243 Private & Custom Tours

Private Full-Day Trip to Khor Virap - Noravank - Tatev-ropeway from Yerevan

The starting point and time of the tour can tailored to your preferences.  Journey to the Southern part of Armenia to visit Khor Virap monastery, Armenia's most famous pilgrimage site. Enjoy a guided tour of the historic monastery, including a stunning view of the Biblical Mount Ararat, and learn more about Saint Gregory the Illuminator, King Trdat the 3rd, and the history of Christianity in Armenia. After passing along a narrow road between rock walls carved with hundreds of caves, arrive at your next stop: Noravank Monastery. Tucked in a quiet valley and built to harmonize beautifully with its backdrop of craggy mountains, this stunning building boasts wonderful architecture and ornate embellishments, making it one of the best examples of Armenian 13th-century architecture. Noravank consists of three churches: St. Karapet, St. Grigory the Illuminator, and the 2-story St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God), the latter noteworthy for its impressive sculptural work. Break for a tasty lunch (own expense) at a restaurant near the cableway, having chosen your preferred meal from a menu offered. Next up, ride the ‘Wings of Tatev’, a 3.5-mile (5.7-kilometer) cableway high over the river gorge and lushly forested hills. Built in 11 months, the cableway is the world’s longest without stops and supported by three towers between two terminals: one overlooking the village of Halidzor and the second near the monastery, on the road to Tatev village. Two cabins operate at once, traveling in opposite directions, and the journey serves up spectacular views. Your next stop is the Tatev Monastery, once the wealthiest medieval monastery in Armenia. Aside from serving as a religious and educational center, this spectacularly situated complex was an important strategic stronghold for the medieval Syunik kingdom and impregnable for being located on a high basalt plateau above the Vorotan River Gorge. In times of danger, residents of the monastery used secret tunnels and passageways that led to the canyon below to maintain links with the outside world. Your tour ends back in Yerevan.

Khor Virap Monastery in detail