[ Autumn, 2005 ] My Malaysian friend whom I met in the Armenian tour often says ‘ the journey to Tatev was terrible, wasn’t it’ even now. We were on the non paved road for…
The Tatev Monastery in Armenia is a complex that consists of three churches which are dedicated respectively to the Apostles Peter and Paul, to St. Gregory and to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
A feature of particular interest is the oscillating stars in the domed ceiling.
The church that is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul was built on the foundations of an ancient tabernacle from which it takes its name.
The construction took place between 895 and 906 A.D. and was further extended in 1043.
The church became more important under Bishop Hovhannes and was financed by Prince Ashot, his wife and other members of the royal household.
The rectangular church extends from east to west with the altar being situated in the eastern part of the church.
The central dome is supported by two columns on the eastern side.
The roof is covered with large tiles and the walls, both internal and external, have carved stone finishes.
The internal walls were embellished with scripts written in Armenian as well as with frescoes which depicted images of Jesus and the Apostles. Sadly, these have only partially survived.
The church which is dedicated to St. Gregory is next to the church of St. Peter and St. Paul and was the first building to be erected in the complex having been commissioned and financed by Prince Philip of Syunik between 836 and 848 A.D. It was renovated in the 11th century but unfortunately suffered tremendous damage as a result of the earthquake which occurred in 1138.
The church remained in ruins for more than a century, until 1295, the year in which it was restored once again.
The church does not have a dome but a roof covered with large tiles which is supported by three columns and the entrance is decorated with geometric shapes.
The church that is dedicated to Mary is situated alongside the fortified walls that surround the monastery complex at the northern end and was constructed in 1087.
The structure was also badly damaged in the earthquake of 1931 and was subsequently restored at the end of the 20th century.
Between the 14th and the 15th centuries the Monastery housed the most important and the most modern university of the medieval period in Armenia and was also an important economic, cultural, political and spiritual centre.
In the Monastery’s courtyard there stands a tilting column measuring 15 metres which was allegedly built in order to frighten any potential invaders, apparently with some success, according to the history books.
The Monastery of Tatev is located near the village of the same name and was built on a basalt plateau on the edge of a steep gorge which drops down into the River Vorotan.
The longest cable-car in the world is that which travels to the Monastery crossing the deep gorge of the River Vorotan and stretching for 5.7 kilometres.
The journey takes 11 minutes at a speed of around 37 kilometres per hour with cabins that can each hold up to 25 passengers.
The Monastery of Tatev is 316 kilometres from Yerevan .