No matter where you visit in the world, some of the most beautiful things to see are places of worship. Whether new or old, lot of time, money, effort, and skill go in to building churches, monasteries, and temples. Now it doesn’t matter if you are the religious type or not because everyone should be able to appreciate the beauty that is found in the architecture of these structures. Armenia is filed with impressive architecture and below are some of the churches, temples, and cathedrals that should not go unnoticed.
The Garni Temple is a rare example of architecture that places the old work right next to the new. The Parthenon-esque structure was originally built in the first century by King Tiridates. It stood until 1679 when an earth quake destroyed a good portion of it. It wasn’t reconstructed until the Soviet times and this is where the difference in the old stones and new stones can be seen. The newer stones do not have the same beautifully done carvings as the old stones. Although this is disappointing, the reconstruction is actually quite impressive and was very well done. If you explore the grounds of the temple you will also find ancient mosaic baths and old homes. If you have a car or are able to hike you can also check out the Garni Gorge. The Garni Temple is a master piece that must be seen.
Havuts Tar Monastery
This is one of the more off the beaten path places to visit in Armenia. Havuts Tar is located in the same area as the Garni Temple, across the Garni Gorge. The hike to Havuts Tar is a bit of journey, but that makes reaching the destination all the more special. It was built between the 11th and 14th centuries, needless to say it has suffered some bit over time. The main are of the complex was also destroyed in the 1679 earthquake but rebuilt early in the 18th century. There are several tombstones on the grounds of lords, soilders, and scholars dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries.
The Monastery of Geghard
Possibly the most popular and well known of the monasteries in Armenia, the Monastery of Geghard is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is unique because part of it is actually carved out of the mountain that it sits adjacent to and is surrounded by cliffs. The site of the monastery was chosen in the 4th century around a natural spring inside of a cave that was deemed sacred. Some of the churches in the complex are carved completely out of the cliff rocks while others are grandiose structures. There are several free standing stone pillars engraved with a cross, called khachkars, in the complex.
Built in the 9th century the Tatev Monastery is wonderfully beautiful. It is in South-Eastern Armenia and sits on a large basalt plateau. This monastery also sits on the edge of a deep gorge which adds to its aesthetic pleasure. The history of this monastery is quite interesting and important to Armenia. It used to host one of the most important medieval universities in the region. Helping the Armenian people advance in science, philosophy, and theology.