Tatev Monastery

Tatev monastery was one of medieval Armenia's most important religious and cultural centers. Established in the 4th c.,Tatev housed the Siunik Bishopric starting the late 8th c. Numerous donations were made to the monastery over successive periods resulting in a thriving institution.


Tatev Monastery


Tatev monastery was one of medieval Armenia's most important religious and cultural centers. Established in the 4th c.,Tatev housed  the Siunik Bishopric starting the late 8th c. Numerous donations were made to the monastery over successive periods resulting in a thriving institution.

The single-nave St. Grigor Lusavorich (Gregory the Illuminator) church with vaulted roof was commissioned in 848 by Philip Prince of Siunik and reconstructed in 1046 and 1295. The main church of the complex is St. Poghos-Petros, a domed hall type, built between 895-906. The donors of the building were the ruling Prince Ashot of Siunik, his wife Shushan, Princes Grigor Supan and Dzagik. In 930, the church was covered with frescoes upon the initiative of Bishop Hakob Dvnetsi, with western artists invited to work with Armenian masters. Adjoining St. Poghos-Petros was the gavit-hall, constructed in 1043 and destroyed during the 1931 earthquake. The “swinging” pillar dedicated to the Holy Trinity was erected in 906 by Bishop Hovhannes. St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Mother of God) two-story sepulcher-church was built in 1087 on top of the monastery’s gate. The two-story belfry (14th c.) decorated with a set of arches was commissioned over the gavit by Hovhan Vorotnetsi. The primacy, the monk cells, the baths, the book depository, the refectory, the kitchen, the bakery, along with the other service buildings and the defensive walls are dated to the 17th c.

The spring was commissioned in 1745 by Hovhannes Vardapet, with a mausoleum built over the grave of erudite Grigor Tatevatsi in 1787. The turrets of the north wall date to the same period. The oil-press dated to the late 18th c. was commissioned by Archbishop Hovakim. The school was commissioned in the 18th c. by Father Superior Abraham Astapattsi and continued until the early 20th c. It is Armenia’s only surviving educational institution built in the Late Middle Ages. The gavit and the old bell-tower were torn down in the late 19th century and replaced with a 3-storey structure abutting the western wall of St. Poghos-Petros. The belfry dated to the early 20th c. was decorated with richly ornamented carvings.

Tatev monastery was a center of the struggle against assimilation with the Roman Catholic Church and a major center of learning and calligraphy. In 1390-1435 the complex was home to an institution of higher education called “university”, deserving of its reputation as an important center of learning and science.  Two of Armenia's most famous teachers Hovhan Vorotnetsi and Grigor Tatevatsi taught here. Adjoining the monastery was the matenadaran (manuscript depository) which opened in the 10th c. and was used until 1911-1912. It also housed a center of miniature painting.

Most of the complex was destroyed in the 1931 earthquake. The area was cleared of rubble, with renovation, planning and construction works launched in the late 1960. The late 1990s saw the construction of St. Poghos-Petros church roofs, the restoration of the first floor of the bell-tower and the rotunda of the Grigor Tatevatsi mausoleum. The oil-press restored later in 2010.  The research and planning of the complex reinforcement and restoration are still in progress. 

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