Surrounded by an incredible mountain range and situated on the edge of a deep gorge which drops down into the Vorotan River, the Tatev Monastery is one of the most iconic spots to visit in Armenia.
Located 280 kilometers southeast of Yerevan, Armenia , Tatev Monastery is in the small town of Tatev (population: 1,000) and quite close to the Iranian border.
Here in Tatev, you can find a few restaurants and some small shops selling souvenirs and herbs.
In 2010, the worlds largest reversible cableway (5752 metres) was built, allowing visitors to cross over the gorge into Tatev. The tram-ride takes about 20-30 minutes and a return ticket costs 3500 AMD (about $10 cad).
Once on the other side, you can enter the grounds of the iconic 9th-century monastery, seeing just how close it is located to the edge of the cliff.
History of Tatev:
At the start of the 11th-century, the Tatev Monastery hosted over 1000 monks and artisans. In the late 1000s, some of the churches and buildings in the area were looted and destroyed – before being re-built and destroyed again over the next few centuries.
Between 1390 and 1435, the University of Tatev opened in the same area as the monastery. Here, major discoveries were made and traditional Armenian documents were preserved and re-written. The legacy and importance of this University is well-recognized today.
After a major earthquake left the monastery in ruins in 1931, there has been an effort to revive both the monastery and community. Most of the buildings have been reconstructed and the majority of work is supposed to be completed by the end of 2017.
How to get to Tatev from Yerevan:
Getting to Tatev can be rather tricky as there isn’t a whole lot of information on the subject. Most tour agencies will offer day trips to Tatev but these usually include stops at other sites along the way and you’ll have to plan for a 12-14 hour day. The tours will generally cost between 40,000 – 60,000 AMD ($105-160 cad) and include transportation, and meals.
The second and most cost efficient method would be to take a shared taxi from Yerevan to Tatev. Costing 5000 AMD ($13 cad) each way, this 3-hour shared taxi can be a little crammed, but it is a lot cheaper and allows for more freedom in your day.
A fairly common method, most hostels or hotels will be able to provide you with the name of a person willing to drive you to Tatev. However, the return to Yerevan is a little more precarious, as you’ll need to find a driver with open space. But hey, $25 cad for 6 hours in a taxi is worth a bit of uncertainty in my opinion!
It’s also a great way to check out the landscape of Armenia, as you’re basically travelling the entire length of the country in one day!
Due to its incredible location, the Tatev Monastery is one of the most majestic religious structures I’ve ever seen. While a day trip from Yerevan, Armenia can be a long and tiring day, I absolutely recommend that you take the time to head down to Tatev.
Hey, it’s not everyday you have the opportunity to visit a 1000-year-old monastery!
Hajoghutyun (goodbye in Armenian)