- Place or Religious Monument
- Place or Historical Monument
- Unesco World Heritage
Perched on a rocky headland at the edge of the Vorotan Gorge, the Tatev Monastery is Syunik and southern Armenia's religious hub. This incredibly well-preserved monastery was, during the Middle Ages, home to one of the country's main universities, where science, religion and philosophy were taught.
I adored both the monastery and its surrounds, a mountainous region where rocky peaks rise above a lush, green landscape. Unfortunately the scenery is blemished by a highway below that links Tatev to its namesake town. However, the monastery itself is superb.
In brief, Tatev is a must-see in southern Armenia and one of the country's most beautiful monasteries; don't miss this one out!
Tatev is definitely a place worth visiting. As the monastery sits on a rocky outcrop, it has to be reached via a precipitous road down into a gorge followed by a track down a mountain slope. The river at the bottom of the gorge can be a nice place to go for either a short walk or a bathe, with the latter a particularly refreshing option in summer. When you first arrive here, you're greeted by the sight of Tatev Monastery, hidden behind a sturdy, fortified wall. Inside it's sober in effect, but the refined quality of both the stonework and the woodwork of the doors and icons serves to soften the overall starkness.
What most impressed me about Tatev was that it enabled me to form an idea of what an Armenian monastery-university might have been like in the Middle Ages. You can visit more or less every room at the site, whether it's the refectory, the library, the classrooms, or even the cells where the monks lived. The information available is a little lacking, but you can always ask Armenian tourists to explain some of the key points to you. They usually really enjoy the opportunity to do this! If you happen to visit on a Sunday, you also have the option of attending an Armenian polyphonic mass. Whether it's for its location or its historical importance, Tatev Monastery is definitely one of the essential places to see for anyone visiting Armenia.