The Best Things to Do in Tatev

Tatev Monastery
Tatev Monastery | © Diego Delso / WikiCommons | © Diego Delso / WikiCommons

Tatev is a small village in the Syunik Province. Other than the Tatev monastery—one of the most gorgeous churches in the country—the town doesn’t boast many sights. However, this shouldn’t stop you from exploring the area, as there are many interesting natural and historical landmarks in the vicinity.

1. Ride the record-setting cableway

Ski Resort, Natural Feature

© Clay Gilliland / WikiCommons

Wings of Tatev is a 5.7 km (3.5 mi) cableway that operates between Halidzor and the Tatev monastery. The cableway has held the Guinness World Record for the longest nonstop double-track cableway since construction was completed in 2010. The total ride time is about 12 minutes, and the cars reach a maximum height of 320 meters over the beautiful gorge. About 240 people make the journey each hour with about 30 people and one steward in each car.

2. Wander through Tatev monastery

Church, Monastery, Natural Feature

Tatev Monastery
© Marcin Konsek / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Dating back to the 9th century, Tatev monastery stands on the verge of a deep gorge overlooking the Vorotan River. The complex played a significant role in the development of the region, as it was a center of political, economic, cultural, and spiritual activities. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the complex also housed the University of Tatev, where students studied science, religion, philosophy, book publishing, and miniature painting.

3. Visit the Armenian Stonehenge

Archaeological site

Zorats Karer,
© Marcin Konsek / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Called Karahunj and Zorats Karer, this ancient archeological site is just outside of Tatev. Here, visitors will see vertical basalt stones in an open area that covers around 7 hectares. Scholars believe that the area served as a prehistoric observatory and might be 3,500 years older than the world-famous Stonehenge.

4. Tour a cave village

Natural Feature

© Pandukht / WikiCommons

Old Khndzoresk is a cave village situated on the steep slope of a gorge. The village features manmade and natural caves, and the dwellings have been carved out around each other in such a way that necessitated a system of ropes and ladders to navigate the community. The area was inhabited until the 1950s when the Soviet government deemed them uncivilized and unfit and made them leave. To reach the caves, cross the 160-meter (525 ft) suspension bridge, which shakes with every step—so, those who are afraid of heights might want to skip this one.

5. Get closer to nature

Natural Feature

Shaki Waterfall
© uncredited / WikiCommons

About an hour-and-a-half drive from Tatev, Shaki Waterfall is a stunning natural landmark. This 40-meter (131 ft) waterfall fall runs over a ledge created by joint basalt lava flows, which creates a beautiful site for a relaxing afternoon.

6. Visit the Vorotnavank Monastery

Monastery, Church

© Soghomon Matevosyan / WikiCommons

The monastery complex played an important part in the development of Armenia and once housed stores, workshops, a seminary, resort, a cemetery, and more. It’s also where many kings were inaugurated, and was considered so important, that the community built a defensive wall around it when Armenia became a target for invasion.

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