Tatev Monastery (IX-X century) is located in Syunik province. The monastery has a rich history. Tatev was not only a spiritual, but also an educational center. One of the best universities, where the humanities were studied, functioned here during the Middle Ages. The monastery buildings stand almost on the edge of a steep cliff, from where visitors can admire a stunning picturesque scenery of the gorge. The path to the monastery was quite long and difficult years ago, by car it was necessary to get to the place along the mountainous road-serpentine. However, after the opening of Tatever ropeway (Wings of Tatev), the path to the attraction takes very short time. It also gives a lot of amazing unforgettable impressions. It should be mentioned that Wings of Tatev holds the record for the longest non-stop double track cable car.
The well-established transport infrastructure of Armenia allows to get to Tatev 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 Tatev 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 Tatev monastery depends on the weather conditions.
According to the records of the medieval historian Stepanos Orbelian, the first church of Tatev Monastery was built during the time of Gregory the Illuminator (IV century). It was a simple and modest building. The monastery became the seat of the Syunik bishopric around the end of the 8th century. Many valuable Christian relics were kept in the monastery.
According to the legend, during the invasion of Tamerlane, the Mongol commander decided to destroy Tatev monastery. But before introducing the legend it is worth mentioning an amazing monument located here: a stone “swinging pillar” of Ghavazan – a brilliant work of engineering, which once was capable of moving (swinging) at the slightest tremor of the earth. It is believed that this amazing pillar warned the inhabitants of the monastery about an earthquake or an approach of armed enemies in ancient times. So, according to the legend, Tamerlane first tried to destroy Ghavazan. He ordered to wind chains around the pillar and to harness a pair of buffaloes to knock it down. However, the chains immediately were ripped. Then angry Tamerlane decided to burn the monastery. But the fire damaged only the bells in the bell tower. Since then, the sound of the bells is a little distorted here.
The name “Tatev” is translated from Armenian as “give wings”. There are several options which explain the origin of this name. According to the first legend, the master who built the monastery, after finishing his work, went to the very edge of the gorge and said: “Hogin Surb ta tev” - “The Holy Spirit give wings!” After what he rushed down a steep cliff. The Holy Spirit gave the great master wings, so he could fly away safely. The second version of the name “Tatev” is associated with the name Eustateus, a disciple of St. Thaddeus the Apostle, who preached and was martyred in this region. He preached the Christianity in Armenia, and accepted martyrdom in this very place for his work. A church was built at the burial place of the saint in the 4th century. It was consecrated by Gregory the Illuminator. Even now, behind the old monastery walls you can see the ruins of that very first church.
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