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The Great Hermitage of Tatev (Tatev Mets Anapat)

Syunik, Armenia

Cultural Treasure

Far below the Voratan Gorge at the confluence of two rivers lies an abandoned monastery, once home to 700 devotees in the 17th and 18th centuries. Once the pride of the region and a renowned religious center, the hermitage is now kept alive by a single hermit. Scattered around the complex are remains of life, from a small cultivated target to piles of firewood. One can only imagine the bustle of this place with hundreds living here.


Ringed by a large limestone wall, numerous rooms, caves, and chapels are found in the complex, including the grand halls of the monastery. It is surprising the size, considering how it lies hidden from most viewpoints in the gorge. Unfortunately, a terrible earthquake is responsible for its abandonment and neglect.

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Location:

30 kilometers southwest of Goris within the Voratan Gorge, a winding River carving through Syunik Province.


Period:

The current hermitage was founded by monks in the early 17th century, though much earlier hermitages were also established nearby.


Purpose:

A place to live in religious seclusion, connecting with God and studying the scriptures. The Tatev area was one of the main religious centers of Armenia.


Now:

Even though once home to hundreds of hermits, only one or two live there today. It is mostly forgotten and in ruins,  only reached by hiking.




Our Visit

We reached the hermitage following a steep hike from Tatev Monastery, hugging the steep gorge all the way to the bottom. When we arrived and opened the cast iron door, it was such a relief to find us in the Great Hermitage of Tatev. We feel we have entered the Garden of Eden. A flowing spring sits in the center courtyard with endless cold water, sheltered by a large berry tree abundantly full of the juiciest delicacies. We made a mess of ourselves as we indulged in the berries, suddenly forgetful of how tired we were. Sitting in the courtyard and exploring the numerous room of the complex remains a memory we cherish.

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