Aragatsotn - Tegher Monastery

The inscription shows that the church and the gavit adjoining it on the west were built for Prince Vache Vachutian’s wife (“Mama Khatun”) and designed by architect Vardapet Aghbairik in 1213-1232.


The old village

The old village

The old village, built in the 19th c and abandoned in 1962, is a fine example of traditional Armenian architecture and lies next to the large monastery which, for all its dark and brooding looks, appears like a fairytale castle as you twist and wind your way uphill to its alpine location.

The monastery is dated to the early 13th century, built for Princess Khatun (a.k.a. “Mama Khatun”), wife of Prince Vacheh Vachutian, who had purchased the district of Aragatsotn from the Zakarian brothers and spent the first decades of the century erecting fantastic monasteries on the mountainside. Tegher is the sister vank to two contemporary monasteries built on the other side of the Amberd River at Ohanavan and Saghmosavank. Built in the same period (1200-1220) and designed by the 13th c architect Vardapet Aighbairik, these three monasteries form a triptych of the best of Armenian design and experimentation in the period.

Flushed with new ideas about design and engineering and flushed with cash from the riches of the reopened Silk and Spice Trails, the period is sometimes called the Silver Age. Unable to rival the literary brilliance of the 5th c Golden Age, it was in fact Armenia’s Golden Age of Church construction, when oriental, European, Byzantine and Roman ideas and décor melded into an exciting style that somehow became distinctly Armenian. Just as early Armenian ideas about the arch and the central dome influenced the great gothic cathedrals of Europe and construction in Asia; a few hundred years later Asian and European ideas about décor and towering structures found their way back to Armenia. Tegher, Hovhanavank and Saghmosavank are three great examples that show some of this influence. The monastery is still a place of pilgrimage for four nearby villages, especially on the grape blessing holiday in August.

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    How to reach Continue uphill on the Dzorap road (take the left fork when given the choice) for about 5 km on a climbing, winding road past the turnoff to Orgov (at about 2.9 km) that gradually deteriorates as it reaches Tegher Monastery․

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