Gndevank Monastery

According to historian Stepanos Orbelian, the monastery was built in the 10th c. for Princess Sophia of Syunik, who appointed Priest Sargis as the abbot and artist Yeghishe Priest as the head of the construction.



Gndevank was founded in the 10th c on the site of an older monastery, itself a replacement of a pre-Christian worship site.  Excavations have uncovered artifacts from the Bronze and Iron Ages, and caves it in the area were settled in the Neolithic period.

According to the 13th c historian Stepanos Orbelian, the upper village, Gndevaz,  was founded by Sophie Siuniats (Sophie Princess of Siunik, wife of Prince Smbat Siunetsi) immediately following the construction of the monastery, naming it Gndevaz after the vank and donating it to the church.

Later excavations suggest that the village Stepanos wrote about was not the current Gndevaz, but a now abandoned site adjoining the vank, spread out to the south.

This was in the 10th c, and it is reported to have become one of the largest and most important settlements in Vayots Dzor, while the monastery quickly became one of the most important manuscriptoriums in Siunik.

In 1008 a 22 km canal was erected to irrigate the monastery’s lands, enriching the monastic community well into the 13th century when it, like others in Vayots Dzor, was sacked by invading Mongols. This was followed by 90 years of relative peace, when the region came under the control of the Orbelian family.   

The monastery was renovated in 1309 by Prince Grigor, and continued for another 25 years until the entire kingdom came suddenly to an end with the Mongol internecine wars starting in 1335, followed by Turkic and Timurid raids and the long dark ages of the 15th-18th cc.  

The monastery was deserted during the 1604 forced migration of Armenians to Persia, and not renovated again until 1691, under the direction of the monastery vardapet Petros.  

The vank was again deserted in the early Soviet era, and damaged by the 1931 earthquake.  Renovations undertaken between 1965 and 1969 repaired the damaged church and gavit.


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    Working period/season Year around


    How to reach There are two ways to reach Gndevank, both are roads leading to Jermuk. If you take the new highway to Jermuk, you will have to exit into the village of Gndevaz, and hike down the canyon (approx 45 minutes down) to reach the monastery.

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