Geghard Monastery is a medieval monastery in the Kotayk province, being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. The name commonly used for the monastery today, Geghard, or more fully Geghardavank, meaning “the Monastery of the Spear”, originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion. It is believed, that the spear was brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, called here Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics. Now it is displayed in the Echmiadzin treasury. The monastery complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with enhanced protection status.
The well-established transport infrastructure of Armenia allows to get to Geghard monastery by a private car or with the help of various travel companies which offer regular excursions and tours to different sights of the country. Due to the geographical location of Geghard monastery the trip will not seem long.
The high season in Armenia lasts for a long time due to the pleasant climate conditions. Warm days in Armenia start in March and last until late autumn; winter is usually snowless and not long. The high precipitation season is variable. The tourist season for Geghard monastery depends on the weather conditions.
The monastery was erected in the 4th century. However, visiting the monastery today it is possible to see a place, which was sacred even in pre-Christian times. It is an ancient cave with a spring, which was a place of worship in pagan times. The monastery had thus been originally named Ayrivank , meaning "the Monastery of the Cave".
According to the legend, a precious treasure was preserved in the northern wall of the cave monastery Geghard. In fact, during the construction, the architects, using erdiks (erdik - an opening in the roof in Armenian architecture, through which natural light penetrated into the room), could make the light penetrating into the church look like a diamond. The conqueror Tamerlane, hearing about the treasure, wanted to take it away, however, when he approached, he closed the opening of the light with his shadow, and as a result, the treasure "disappeared". Disappointed he decides to leave, but at the very moment he took a step, he saw the treasure again. Three times, he tried to approach the diamond. Fascinated by the miracle Tamerlane decided not to destroy the monastery and left. After the earthquake in Garni in 1679, the treasure - diamond disappeared.
Besides the official version of the construction of the monastery complex, there is also a legend, according to which a sister and a brother of a noble origin decided to leave the secular life and build a church in a gorge. They ask God to help them. Waking up in the morning, they saw a hoe ( an ancient and versatile agricultural and horticultural hand tool used to shape soil) sticking out from the top of a mountain. Working hard, gradually, they carved a church out of a rock, where they lived until the end of their lives.
Mary Amp 1253