10 Most Ancient Temples and Monasteries of Armenia

Armenia is one of the most ancient countries in the world with many temples, monasteries and churches. Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301 A.D.

Christianity has played an immensely important role in Armenian history during all these centuries, and religion has been an essential part of Armenian identity and has reshaped the course of history. Over the centuries Armenians were fighting to protect their religion preferring to die as Christians than live adopting other religion.

Armenia is an open-air museum thanks to many ancient monasteries and temples, and each shrine of Armenia has its centuries-old history and important role in the Armenians’ lives.

1. Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin

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The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin is the spiritual and administrative headquarters of the worldwide Armenian Church. The Mother Cathedral, founded by the Descent of Christ, built by St. Gregory the Illuminator and King Trdat III, has stood as a symbol against time of the Armenian faith, nation and people. Saint Hripsime Church, Saint Gayane Church and Shoghakat Church are located near Etchmiadzin Cathedral.

Start your pilgrimage tour of 2024 from the small town of the churches of Armenia!

2. Geghard Monastery

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Geghard monastery complex is a medieval monastery founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave in the Kotayk province of Armenia. The full name of the monastery Geghardavank, which means "the Monastery of the Spear". It originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, called here Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics. Now it is displayed in the Echmiadzin treasury.

Visit Armenia and discover the history of one of the ancient monasteries of our historical country!

3. Temple Garni

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One of the treasures among Armenian temples is Temple of Garni – symbol of pre-Christian Armenia.

The temple was built by king Tiridates I in the first century AD as a temple to the sun god Mihr. After Armenia's conversion to Christianity in the early fourth century, it was converted into a royal summer house. The temple collapsed in a 1679 earthquake and was reconstructed between 1969 and 1975.

It is one of the main tourist attractions in Armenia and the central shrine of Armenian neopaganism.

4. Khor Virap Monastery

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Khor Virap is an Armenian ancient monastery which has a guaranteed view of the beautiful biblical mountain Ararat! St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned here for about 14 years before curing King Trdat III of a disease. This caused the conversion of the king and Armenia into the first Christian nation in the world in the year 301.

Holy Mother of God church is located near Khor Virap Monastery.

Tour to Khor Virap Monastery will remain in your memory for a long time after visiting the underground chamber where St. Gregory the Illuminator was imprisoned in the nondescript St. Gevorg Chapel.

5. Noravank Monastery

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Noravank – Armenian ancient monastery, where according to a legend, a piece of the True Cross, stained with the blood of Christ, was hidden. Noravank monastery complex was built in XIII—XIV centuries.

Two-storey Holy Mother of God church in located in the territory of the monastery. The name “Noravank” translated into English means “New Monastery”, although today in 2024 it is already more than seven-century-old one.

Discover the most impressive and historical shrines of Armenia!

6. Haghartsin Monastery

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Haghartsin Monastery was founded by the Bagratuni dynasty in the 10th century. It is in Tavush Region of Armenia. The monastery complex includes four churches: the oldest one – Saint Grigor, the main church – Saint Astvatsatsin, Saint Katoghike and Saint Stephanos, as well as two courtyards, refectory, prayer halls and khachkars (cross-stones).

Haghartsin is one of the most ancient and beautiful monasteries of Armenia that is worth visiting!

7. Goshavank Monastery

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Nor Getik – Armenian medieval monastery complex of XII—XIII centuries in the village of Gosh in Armenia. Monastery is well-known under the name Goshavank. It’s named so in honour of a statesman, outstanding scientist and writer, an author of numerous fables and parables Mkhitar Gosh, who took part in building the monastery Goshavank in the place of an older monastery, which had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1188.

See the beauty of the monasteries of the country, where Christianity began, with your own eyes!

8. Tatev Monastery Complex

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The Tatev Monastery is a 9th -century Armenian Apostolic monastery located in Syunik Province of Armenia. The word “Tatev” translated into English means “give wings”. According to one of the legends: The master, who was building the monastery, finished his work and came to the very edge of the cliff, crossed himself, said “Ognir, Surb, ta tev” translated as “Let the Holy Spirit give me the wings” and threw himself down. Suddenly two wings grew on his back and he flew away. Therefore, the monastery was named Tatev in honour of the master whose appeal was heard by God.

Visit the magical monastery and don’t forget about the World's Longest Ropeway – The Wings of Tatev!

9. Sevanavank Monastery Complex

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Sevanavank is a monastery complex located on a peninsula at the northwestern shore of Lake Sevan.

The two churches of the complex, Surp Arakelots meaning the "Holy Apostles" and Surp Astvatsatsin meaning the "Holy Mother of God", are both cruciform plan structures with octagonal tambours. The two are quite similar to each other in appearance.

Visit the Sevanavank Monastery Complex and at the same time enjoy the breathtaking view of the blue-eyed treasure of Armenia – Lake Sevan!

10. Haghpat Monastery

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Haghpat Monastery, also known as Haghpatavank is a medieval monastery complex in Haghpat, Armenia. Haghpat Monastery overlooks the Debed River in northern Armenia's Lori region. It was built, not on a peak, but halfway up a hillside on a site chosen to afford protection and concealment from prying eyes and in response to a kind of monastic humility. The largest church in the complex is the Cathedral of Surb Nishan, that was completed in 991 by king Smbat.

The monastery has been damaged many times, but nevertheless, much of the complex is still intact and stands today without substantial alterations.

Visit Armenia in 2024 and discover the ancient monasteries of incomparable beauty and churches, that have centuries-old history!