Geghard Monastery: A UNESCO Heritage Site in Armenia

*Featured photo: Aerial view of Geghard by Diego Delso

Geghard is a 4th-century medieval monastery, located in Armenia’s Kotayk region.

What you’ll find in this article

  • Geghard Monastery
  • A brief history of the Geghard Monastery
  • Practical information and visitors
  • Where is Geghard Monastery?

After completing my visit to Yerevan, I departed the city to explore the gems in rural Armenia. Although Armenia is not a big country in terms of land size, the abundance of ancient sites, medieval monasteries and historic ruins surprised me a lot. Notably, Geghard Monastery was one of the most stunning and magical sites I have ever been to, not only in Armenia, but perhaps the whole world.

Façade of the Geghard Monastery (photo by Diego Delso)

Geghard Monastery

Included in UNESCO’S World Heritage Sites List in 2000, Geghard beholds a number of churches, chapels, tombs and rooms. What makes Geghard unique is that the complex was carved inside a mountain. Today, Geghard stands as one of the most spectacular examples of medieval Armenian architecture and Armenian stonemasonry.

Aerial view of Geghard Monastery and Upper Azat Valley (photo by Diego Delso)

A brief history of the Geghard Monastery

Armenia is the first nation in history that converted to Christianity as a mass in the year 301 AD. Ever since Saint Gregory the Illuminator started spreading the religion in the country and baptized the royal family, Armenians have been building fascinating churches and monasteries for centuries.

Inside the monastery. Stoneworks, candles and pictures of saints.

Although the foundations of Geghard were set in the 4th century by Saint Gregory the Illuminator, the main complex was built in 1215. The sacred fountain inside the monastery was declared holy by Gregory and became the spot where he founded Geghard. The former name of the monastery was Ayrivank, which means “cave monastery” in Armenian. Today, the official name is Geghardavank , which means “spear monastery” in Armenian. Legend suggests that the Apostle Judy (a.k.a Thaddeus) brought the spear that injured Jesus during the crucifixion to Geghard. This is one of the prime reasons behind the great prominence of the monastery. Today, the spear is in the treasury of Echmiadzin, the 4th largest city in Armenia, which is also known to be the religious capital of the country.

Khachkars embedded to the face of the mountain (photo by Diego Delso)
Inside Geghard Monastery.

Practical information for visitors

Visiting Geghard is free of charge.

If you go to Geghard with our own vehicle, you might be asked for a small fee like 100-200 AMD (less than $1) as the parking fee.

On your way to Geghard or on your way back, stop by Geghard Restaurant to have some traditional Armenian food.

Perhaps the most popular spot of Geghard: Lion and eagle carvings.
Entrance to Geghard Monastery (photo by Matthias Süßen)

Where is Geghard Monastery?

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Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

A travel & history enthusiast who has been sharing his travel experiences and introducing the unpopular unique places in the world!

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