One of the most known monasteries in Armenia is located just 40 km from Yerevan and just a few km away from Garni, in the Kotyak province. Geghard Monastery is the most unusual one in the country because a part of it is carved out in the mountain. The monastery complex was established by Saint Gregory the Illuminator near a holy spring in the cave in 4th century and called Ayrivank, which means “the Monastery of the Cave”. It was invaded by the Arabs and the Seljuks several times; in 923 it was burned down. No original buildings remained till these days. In 17th-18th centuries, buildings that we see today were constructed; the complex was renamed as Geghardavank, which means “the Monastery of the Spear” referring to the Spear of Destiny which was used to wound Jesus Christ.
Being a part of the Azat River gorge, the monastery complex of comprised of Chapel of Saint Grigor, Katoghike Church, the vestry or gavit, a bell tower, a few burrials, and a few khachkars. Chapel of Saint Grigor is the oldest building of the complex, while Katoghike Church is the most significant part of it. Geghard Monastery creates spectacular impression because of its complexity and rich decorations; it’s a beautiful example of nature combining with human talent.
Geghard Moastery is included in UNESCO World Heritage List as exceptionally well-preserved example of Armenian monastic architecture and decorative art. The locals joke that to fully explore Armenia you have to visit Garn-Geghard and Lake Sevan. Garni is another one of a kind pagan temple located further down the river; usually, travelers visit these destinations at once. The monastery complex s there to expose you to unique architecture, fascinating atmosphere, and rich history. What else would you wish? Side note, the path that leads to monastery complex is known for having a bunch of mouth-watering, homemade Armenian food for sale!