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Rambler's Top100

: Itineraries | : admin | 15.03.2007, 05:23

High up in mountains of Zangezur - in one of the scenic corners of Armenia - powerful, unapproachable and stronghold monastery of Tatev towers on the high rock rising above the deep gorge. It was founded in IX century on the place of an ancient sanctuary.
Its beneficial strategic location favoured creation of powerful fortifications here.
Thick fortifications protected this monastic small town, standing for twelve centuries and vulnerable to the earthquake only. Tatev was built up from IX to XVIII century, but the majority of its constructions were erected in XIII century. The monastery of Tatev was not only the religious, but also the political center of Syunik princedoms.
The St. Peter and Paul Cathedral served as the center of the monastery constructed in 895-906. It is a dome basilica. The annexes were in the western part of the building, whose wall corners serve for supporting the dome. The laconic shape of the temple strengthens the impression of significant height of the building. Smooth, without overly detailed works, the facades of the temple were decorated only with bas-reliefs featuring human faces confronting the heads of snakes worshipped by Armenians as patronesses of dwelling.
Inside the temple the walls were decorated with frescos which have been completely lost by now. In the altar part the Christ was represented accompanied with prophets and saints. On one of the walls there were paintings with the scenes of terrible court, on another one - scenes of Christmas.
The church of St. Grigor built in 1295 adjoins to the southern wall of the main temple, where an earlier construction of IX century used to stand. The architecture of the building is simple- a rectangular hall overlapped by the cylindrical arch. The walls are not blocked up with a carved pattern. Only original form of the windows in the form of two crosses with half columns between them is allocated. But the portal of the construction is framed by openwork carving with a fine and intricate pattern. Before the entrance to the main temple, in XIX century the three-storied bell tower with light octagonal belfry was built .
A university also worked in the monastery for long years. There were three branches there. Music was studied in one of them, in the other - painting, in the third one- Christian compositions and sciences were studied. Not only philosophy and logic, but also literature, grammar, rhetoric, mathematics and natural sciences were taught here.
A unique construction- the monument of Gavazan erected in 904 was preserved in the yard of the monastery. It is an octahedral rocking column, on an articulate basis in the height of more than eight meters put together of small well-meshed stones. A cross stone was established at its top . Thanks to absolutely exact calculation of the center of gravity of the construction, this column inclines and comes back to the starting position even from a simple touch of human hand. The secret of the device of the column has not been solved by the scientists until now.
The apartments of the prior are also in the monastic fencing, refectory with kitchen and pantries, monastic services were capitally reconstructed in XVII century. Here there are also two-storey inhabited rooms with balconies above precipice, a bath and a creamery.
About thousand persons lived in the monastery in X century. Many of selected samples of book painting, and craft workshops - works of an applied art were created here (One of the samples of woodcarving are the doors of the temple covered with the most fine carving).
Translators, due to the perfect command of languages, translated the scientific works of many scientists and philosophers, and artists: they made out manuscripts with fine miniatures, and handicraftsmen produced fine frameworks and bindings for books.
For centuries the monastery stood almost in its protogenic form up to the earthquakes of Zangezur of 1931 as a result of which it turned into a pile of ruins.
One of the miracles of armenian nature - "the Bridge of the Devil" is below the monastery of Tatev, in the 500 meters deep gorge of the river Vorotan. It is 200 meters long, 150-160 meters broad, and 100 meters high. The surface of the bridge is almost flat. Fantastically beautiful stalactites are hung under the bridge, from under of which the river is gushing out. Here there are many warm mineral sources near which lie the remnants of the pools constructed back in ancient times , to use mineral water for medical purposes.
The origin of this natural bridge is apparently connected with a huge landslide of slopes of the gorge, damming up the flow of the river for some time. Later, water opened his way from under the fallen off masses, forming a huge through cave, and the natural bridge above gorges remained wholesome. At present on that bridge runs a highway .

In the second half of the 20 century many monastic structures were revamped.

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