Monastery of Geghard

Monastery of Geghard
Photo by Els Slots.

The Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley are renowned for their influence on Armenian monastic architecture.

The site contains a number of churches and tombs, most of them cut into the living rock. The monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave. The main complex, situated within a defensive wall, dates from the 13th century and holds churches, chapels, cells for monks to live in, and princely tombs. The monastery had a school and library and was an important center of learning in the Middle Ages.

Community Perspective: An atmospheric site in a delightful deep valley. The buildings stand out for their delicate carvings. Geghard is a popular day trip from Yerevan, both with tourists and pilgrims.

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Germany - 29-Dec-23 -

Monastery of Geghard by Nan

Our half-day excursion from Yerevan led us to Garni and the Geghard Monastery. Like most visitors, we began at the reconstructed Garni Temple, which offers panoramic views of the Azat River Gorge. Continuing further up the gorge, we reached Geghard Monastery, nestled against the rugged cliffside.

Upon arrival, a short climb from the parking area brought us to the monastery gates. Here, visitors partake in a unique tradition: tossing pebbles at the cliffside. If a pebble adheres, a wish is granted. Beyond the gates lies a fortified 13th-century church, partially carved into the rock. The most captivating feature of Geghard is its intricate stone and rock carvings. Unfortunately, dim lighting during our visit hindered our full appreciation, but their craftsmanship was evident.

The site itself is compact and easily explored. Outside, the river gorge stretches, inviting further exploration. Regrettably, signposts and proper trails were lacking, limiting our hike beyond the monastery. While online images showcase breathtaking perspectives from higher vantage points, we couldn’t decipher the route.

During our summer 2023 visit, the monastery was undergoing renovations, and shrouded in scaffolding. Additionally, the site bustled with tour groups, dispelling any notion of remote isolation often associated with Geghard’s imagery online.

Getting There

Cab fares are low, making public transport or guided tours to Geghard unnecessary. An added perk awaits—a stopover at Garni, which, while not historically significant, offers picturesque photo opportunities and scenic vistas. Booking a cab via an app like Bolt proves the simplest choice.

While You Are There

As a dedicated World Heritage Site enthusiast, you’ll likely check off all the other Armenian WHS during your journey. It's entirely possible as day trips. Staying in Yerevan (as most travellers do), we found the city less enchanting than expected. For a livelier experience, consider venturing to Tbilisi, a vibrant gem in the region.

Alexander F. Somers

Belgium - 01-Jun-16 -

I was at Geghard in 1978.

When we (The lady I was with and myself) walked towards one of the cave entrances we heard the sound of a flute. While entering, the echo of sounds took us in such a way that we entered into the "room" with goose pimples on our body and tears in our eyes. An experience I'll never forget.

Note: At that time there still was a problem with exercising ones religion. This lady was playing Armenian Religious Music!

Els Slots

The Netherlands - 25-May-05 -

Monastery of Geghard by Els Slots

Geghard monastery has a great setting, amidst rocky mountains. The dark grey monastery is a popular day trip from Yerevan (often combined with the pagan-but-completely-rebuilt Garni temple), and also for school trips as I noticed. I took a guided tour here, which gets you more out of a visit (as displays in English or good guidebooks are non-existent).

Part of this monastery is hewn out of rocks (a bit similar to Lalibela). Inside, its rooms are dark, sober and cool. There are also caves left where monks prayed. Numerous khatchkars (stone crosses) are placed among the rocks.

What I liked best (besides the wonderful location) were the delicate carvings on the in-and outside of the main building. For example, the coat-of-arms relief in one of the rock churches. Also, the door in the main building is exquisite. There are a lot of Arabian influences in this work, telling another chapter of Armenia's turbulent history.


UK - 01-May-05 -

Monastery of Geghard by Solivagant

All 3 of Armenia’s WHS are churches or monasteries! Apart from “ticking off” additional WHS one must ask whether there is a great deal of extra benefit to be gained from chasing all 3 since the non-expert is probably not going to discern the differences in style. Indeed you will see many more than those on the WHS (and there are several more on Armenia’s “Tentative List” too!)

We did and have no regrets at doing so. The Armenian church lies at the heart of this country’s uniqueness (together it should be stated with its alphabet/language and the sense of “difference” and “oppression” which its geographical location and history of persecution and survival have given it) and seeing its monuments and the people worshipping in them is an essential part of gaining a feel for the country.

Each of the sites is in a different setting and Geghard’s is in a delightful deep valley. Dating from the 12th century the structure is half building and half cave. Its rural location was emphasised by the sellers of bread and fruit lined up outside and the slaughtered sheep hung up for skinning nearby. It was busy – but with Armenians on pilgrimage not tourists and a quiet reverence was maintained inside. The explanations of Armenian inscriptions and of saints with strange (to us) names largely passed us by but the atmosphere of peace and tranquillity stayed with us. (Visited July 2000)

Site Info

Full Name
Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley
Unesco ID
Religious structure - Christian

Site History

2000 Inscribed


The site has 1 locations

Monastery of Geghard


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AC Adrian Turtschi Afshin Iranpour Alexander Barabanov Alexander Lehmann Alexandrcfif Alfons and Riki Verstraeten Ali Zingstra Andersgrau8 Ani Anna Wludarska Arseny Dimi Artur Anuszewski Ask Gudmundsen Aspasia Atila Ege BH Bamse Bazikoln Bill Maurmann Bin Bob Parda Bram de Bruin Brigitte Huber CHJLondon Carlos Caminando Christian Wagner Christoosh Christoph Christravelblog CugelVance Dachangjin3 Daniel C-Hazard Dibro Dimitar Krastev Dkabanov Donald M Parrish Jr Donnico Dorejd Drazsika Dreamcatcher Dutchnick Els Slots Erfe91 Erik Jelinek Ertai Eva Kisgyorgy FGKJR1492X Fan Yibo Filip Murlak Fmannucci Ge zhang George Evangelou GerhardM Gisella Gonca Grzegorz Andruszkiewicz Gwythyr Hadrianus Hammeel Handballrama Harald T. HaraldOest Harry Mitsidis Hfxdeb Hidalgo Hidalgo History Fangirl Howe Siang Tan Iain Jackson Ivan Rucek J Jakubmarin Jan Korpeg Janklak Jarek Pokrzywnicki Jballard650 John Smaranda Jonas Kremer Jonathanliao Jos Schmitz Jose Antonio Collar Joseph C. Joshuakirbens Judit Dalla Judith Tanner JudyWalsh Juha Sjoeblom Jungliemonkey Juropa KB1 Kasia Kasienka5 Kevin McFarland Kevin247 Knut Krijn Kristin Kurt Lauer La Concy LaVale Liu tuo Ljowers Loic Pedras Longdutch Lorenzo Mejino Ludvan Luis Filipe Gaspar Lukasz Palczewski Luke LOU Luke725 Luke725 MMM Mahuhe Maki Wang Malgorzata Kopczynska MapPoint Marcel staron Marek Mariam Markassonne Martina Rúčková Marton Kemeny Marty Merveil Michael Novins Michal Kozok Michal Marciniak Mikal Ahmet Mikita M Mikko Milan Jirasek Miloš Tašković Mkborys MoPython Mysteredgar NCosta Nan NataliaS Nej153 Nihal Ege Nils Kronenberg Paczeterson Pandapearls Paolosan82 Pascal Cauliez Pasha Globus Patrick Matgen Patrik_globe Paul Hilder Peter Day Philipp Leu Pink Bunny Piotr Wasil Plutomu Reza Rica Duchateau Risson Rob Wilson RobRos Rodinia Roman Bruehwiler Roman Koeln Roman Raab Ronan B SHIHE HUANG Sclowitz Solivagant Sophie Stanimir Stanislaw Warwas Super-Sophie Sutul Szucs Tamas Tamara Ratz Tarquinio_Superbo Thomas Buechler Timothy C Easton Tingmelvin Tino A Offner Tjark Tony H. Tony0001 Tourhistrio Triath Truls Brekke Usagi1974 Vanessa Buechler Vernon Prieto VforMih WHS Lux WalGra Walter Weecheng Werner Huber Westwards Willc1515 Wojciech Fedoruk Wolfgang Hlousa Wolfgang Sander WolfgangHl Wouter Yevhen Ivanovych Zoë Sheng