During travels around northern part of Armenia one monastery can’t be missed. The most famous monastic complex in the north of the country is called Sanahin. Its name translates as “this one is older than that one”, referring to Haghpat Monastery that was built in 10th century too and isn’t far away from the first one. This treasure of Armenian temple architecture is included into UNESCO World Heritage list.
Sanahin Monastery wasn’t just another Armenian church, but, in fact, it was the educational center of medieval Armenia with an academy, libraries, schools, vast holdings, and hundreds of monks who were scientists and artists. It was founded by monks who were banished from Byzantine in 10th century. The construction started from Surb Astvatsatsin Church. The largest building of the monastic complex is Amenaprkich Church. Its interior was lavishly decorated with unique statues and frescoes, but everything was destroyed by the Selkujks, the Persians, and earthquakes. Book depository of Sanain is the largest ancient book depository in the country; it also acts as a crypt for the nobility.
The monastic complex has very different atmosphere. Unlike other Armenian monasteries are dark and melancholic, but Sanahin is filled with light and peacefulness. Comparing it to other famous monasteries like Garni or Geghard, this one isn’t crowded. You’ll be able to enjoy and explore its beautiful buildings without constants crowds of tourists and noises of cameras. Today the monastic complex consists of two temples with two gavits – contiguous of churches. The territpry of the monastery is covered in greenery; although, the greenery creates magical impression, it covered large parts of the buildings. The road to Sanahin is very pleasant, since it requires use of funiculars. You could combine visiting Sanahin and Haghpat in one day.