Monastery of Geghard
The Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley has been named a WHS for the influence it had on Armenian monastic architecture. The spectacular towering cliffs surrounding the monastery are part of the Azat river gorge.
While the main chapel was built in 1215, the monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave. The complex is carved into the side of the mountain. It consists of several churches, tombs, a defensive wall and carved out crosses (khatckars).
Geghard is the Armenian word for lance or spear, reflecting the legend that it housed one of the lances that was associated with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Visit May 2005
Geghard monastery has a great setting, amidst rocky mountains. The dark grey monastery is a popular daytrip from Yerevan (often combined with the pagan-but-completely-rebuilt Garni temple), and also for schooltrips as I noticed. I took a guided tour here, which gets you more out of a visit (as displays in English or good guidebooks are non-existent).
Part of this monastery is hewn out of rocks (a bit similar to Lalibela). Inside, its rooms are dark, sober and cool. There are also caves left where monks prayed. Numerous khatchkars (stone crosses) are placed among the rocks.
What I liked best (besides the wonderful location) were the delicate carvings on the in- and outside of the main building. For example, the coat-of-arms relief in one of the rock churches. Also, the door in the main building is exquisite. There are a lot of Arabian influences in this work, telling of another chapter of Armenia's turbulent history.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
Geghard is most amazing site that I've seen in Armenia, if you have seen Geghard you can count that you've seen Armenia,
but you must to see it yourself, not on photo, because on photo you will not see even part of Geghard.
|Dave Wheeler (United Kingdom):|
Hello there - first of all let me say that this is not a review but a tentative request for communication. The first thing I want to say is that I have newly stumbled across this website and am absolutely intrigued and excited by it! Tell me more!
The second thing is my tentative request - two days ago I returned from Armenia with a camera chock full of pics of Echmiadzin, St Hripsime, Garni etc - and sadly bereft of pics of Geghard Monastery due to my battery pack giving up the ghost. Question: is there any way I might cheekily ask for copies of these wonderful photos of Geghard featured here?? It would make my day, particularly as I was lucky enough to be there on an equally sunny day! (I'm not in the habit of 'nicking' pictures from websites and I assume they are of limited resolution anyway). Anyway, here's hoping!
| Date posted: May 2006|
|Paul Tanner (UK):|
All 3 of Armenia’s WHS are churches or monasteries! Apart from “ticking off” additional WHS one must ask whether there is a great deal of extra benefit to be gained from chasing all 3 since the non-expert is probably not going to discern the differences in style. Indeed you will see many more than those on the WHS (and there are several more on Armenia’s “Tentative List” too!)
We did and have no regrets at doing so. The Armenian church lies at the heart of this country’s uniqueness (together it should be stated with its alphabet/language and the sense of “difference” and “oppression” which its geographical location and history of persecution and survival have given it) and seeing its monuments and the people worshipping in them is an essential part of gaining a feel for the country.
Each of the sites is in a different setting and Geghard’s is in a delightful deep valley. Dating from the 12th century the structure is half building and half cave. Its rural location was emphasised by the sellers of bread and fruit lined up outside and the slaughtered sheep hung up for skinning nearby. It was busy – but with Armenians on pilgrimage not tourists and a quiet reverence was maintained inside. The explanations of Armenian inscriptions and of saints with strange (to us) names largely passed us by but the atmosphere of peace and tranquillity stayed with us
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