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Geghard Monastery (Գեղարդի վանք)

Geghard Monastery

Geghard Monastery originally found in the 4th century AD is one of the oldest Christian monasteries. It is situated in Goght, Kotayk Province of Armenia. Geghard Monastery was carved from a side of a mountain and today it is added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.




Location: Goght, Kotayk Province     Map

Found: 4th century




History of Geghard Monastery

Geghard Monastery  Geghard Monastery  Geghard Monastery  Geghard Monastery  Geghard Monastery  Geghard Monastery

Geghard Monastery is a famous monastery in Armenia located in the North- East part of the country, 7 km from the village of Garni. It is perched on the mountain above the gorge of the river Azat. The main landmark on the road to the monastery is the figure of a lioness on a pedestal near the sharp bend of the road. From here a vire of Geghard Monastery suddenly opens up.


According to local legend the site of Geghard Monastery was chosen by Gregory the Illuminator on a site of an ancient pagan sacred spring  that was located in a cave. Thus it is often called by its second name of Ayrivank that literally means "monastery of the cave". Its official name of Geghard means "spear" in Armenian. According to local legends this monastery housed an spear of a Roman soldier who used it during crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It is commonly known as a Spear of Longinus. In a New Testament spear was used to check if crucified were still alive by cutting or puncturing their bodies. According to Armenian Apostolic Church apostle Jude (aka apostle Thaddeus) brought it here during his missionary work. Today the spear was moved to the church of  Echmiadzin.


During World War II Adolf Hitler tried to reach Armenia and steal the legendary treasure. His secret and highly specialized unit Ahnanerbe (inheritance from the ancestors) tried and failed to capture the spear due to defeat of the German army.


Geghard Monastery was not spared in its long and turbulent history. In the 9th century it was sacked by the Arab forces who completely demolished Geghard Monastery. All monks were killed and riches plundered. It was subsequently destroyed and most of buildings that you see today date back to the 12th- 13th century. The oldest building in Geghard Monastery is a chapel of Saint Gregory the Illuminator that is situated highe above the road, about 100 meters from the main entrance to the religious complex. Small chapel is notable for stone ornaments along with small preserved fragments of frescoes.


The main church on the grounds of the Geghard Monastery, Church of Katoghike, was constructed in 1215 on the ruins of the older structures. Church is directly linked to the sacristy attached to the rock- Gavit, built in the first half of the 13th century. Gavit was used for education, meetings, and hosting of the pilgrims. Geghard Monastery was more than a spiritual place. It was an important concentration of artists, writers, philosophers and historians including famous Armenian historian Mkhitar Ayrivanetsi who lived in one of the cells here.


Geghard Monastery










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