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.

$25.32 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.

$155 Private & Custom Tours

Private Tour to Khor Virap, Areni Cave, Winery (wine degustation), Noravank

Take trip to Khor Virap Monastery (IV-XVIII th cc.). This monastery is very prominent because of its history: Gregory the Illuminator, who introduced Christianity to Armenia, has been imprisoned here about 13 years as at that time there was a prison in the place of the monastery. Here we can enjoy the spectacular view of the sacred Ararat Mountain - an immortal symbol of Armenia.After this we will continue our tour to Areni village where located T'rchunneri (Birds) Cave and Areni Winery. The excavation is located above the Arpa River, inside a Karst Cavern made from tens of thousands of years of mineral water dripping into limestone crevices; it consists of three rooms or halls, the first two of which are connected by passageways. There are also niches and “basement” and “attic” floors opening upward and downward from the first room. The total area of the cave is about 500 square meters. 2007-2008 excavations of the first room and surrounding area uncovered layers of material culture dating to different periods of the Copper (chalcolithic) and Stone Ages. Based on the results of radiocarbon examination, samples taken from these layers (bone fragments, coal, fabric pieces, seeds and other organic residues) are traced back to late 5th- early 4th millennium BCE.At the Areni winery you will try different sorts of wine and will have chance to buy souvenirs and wine.Heading to Noravank, a monastery of XIII century, situated among amazing sheer rocks on the bench of a twisty gorge. The monastic complex includes the church of S. Karapet, S. Grigor chapel with a vaulted hall, and the church of S. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God). Ruins of various civil buildings and khachkars are found both inside and outside of the compound walls. Noravank was the residence of the Orbelian princes. The architect Siranes and the miniature painter and sculptor Momik worked here in the latter part of the thirteenth and early fourteenth century. This is the only monastery where we may find a unique sculpture of Father God. The monastery is best known for its two-storey Surb Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) church, which grants access to the second floor by way of a narrow stone-made staircase jutting out from the face of building.

$22 Cultural & Theme Tours

Majestic snow-capped Mount Ararat & Khor Virap Monastery

About 1 hour of driving through the agricultural heartland of Armenia, Ararat Plain offering fantastic scenery of fruit orchards, endless vineyards at the foothills of Ararat Mountain, you visit Khor Virap Monastery, the most sacred pilgrimage destination in Armenia not only because it’s the only place in Armenia where you’ll get the best view of the biblical Mount Ararat (5165m, the place where the Noah's Ark rested after the Great Flood) within Armenian borders, but this is where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years by the King Tiridates III for preaching Christianity. Guided by the remote majesty of the biblical Mount Ararat, where the Noah’s ark had landed, we explore the site, its underground chambers, elegant chapels and are captivated by the ascetic atmosphere of the site.

$16.80 Transfers & Ground Transport

Private Transfer to Khor Virap Monastery

About 1 hour of driving through the agricultural heartland of Armenia, Ararat Plain offering fantastic scenery of fruit orchards, endless vineyards at the foothills of Ararat Mountain, you visit Khor Virap Monastery, the most sacred pilgrimage destination in Armenia not only because it’s the only place in Armenia where you’ll get the best view of the biblical Mount Ararat (5165m, the place where the Noah's Ark rested after the Great Flood) within Armenian borders, but this is where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned for 13 years by the King Tiridates III for preaching Christianity. Guided by the remote majesty of the biblical Mount Ararat, where the Noah’s ark had landed, we explore the site, its underground chambers, elegant chapels and are captivated by the ascetic atmosphere of the site.

$129 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 Monastery 2. St. Gayane Church 3. St. Hripsime Church 4. Etchmiadzin Cathedral 5. Zvartnots Cathedral 6. Machanents tourism and art

Khor Virap Monastery in detail