Did you find Noravank Monastery, and Tatev Monastery, to be overrun with tourists? Then modest Tanahati Monastery, on the outskirts of Yeghegnadzor, might be for you.
To get to Tanahati Monastery, drive (or hike) through Yeghegnadzor (it took me a couple of days to learn how to pronounce this town name correctly 🙂 ).
Make your way up to Gladzor University. And then just keep going. Continue along the narrow winding road you’ve been following for another 7 kilometres.
You’ll end up amidst rolling green hills with vistas of distant snow-capped mountains. It’s a landscape representative of Armenia – and of the Caucasus as a whole. Rarely a tree to be seen, but beautiful nonetheless.
You’ll crest a low rise and there it will be, small, dark, and subdued, its stone surfaces stained from centuries of weathering: Tanahati Monastery.
Tanahati Monastery was built between 1273 and 1279 by the wealthy Proshian family, whose crest – an eagle gripping a lamb in its talons – decorates the exterior of the building beneath the conical umbrella style dome.
The even wealthier Orbelian family – whose crest features a lion and a bull (see photo below) – who financed the construction of Noravank, as well as the Selim Caravanserai, are also depicted on the monastery exterior.
If you’ve been in Armenia for more than a day, then you are bound to have come across several khachkars already.
Khachkars, or Armenian cross-stones, are ornately carved stele that feature a cross as the centre piece. They are are a unique part of Armenian culture, so much so that UNESCO has inscribed them on their list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Above all, Tanahati Monastery is quiet.
Just a single other vehicle pulled up during the half hour Ami and I spent at the site – the vehicle in question was the stylish black Lada you can see in the photo above. Its occupants made a quick visit to the chapel, made a silent prayer, and departed, leaving us alone with the monastery once more.
Practical information and how to reach Tanahati Monastery:
There are no public transport options to speak of, but it should be easy enough to organise a taxi ride to the monastery from Yeghegnadzor. Or you can walk there and back if you have the time. More transport info here.