They say if Heaven was a forest with mountains and mineral springs, then it would look like Dilijan. And Dilijan’s most important landmark is the Haghartsin Monastery built in the 13th century.
Dilijian is 400 meters above sea level and is a spa town surrounded by the Pambak and Bazoum mountain ranges. The Aghstev River flows through the town.
Dilijan becomes an open-air museum with Haghartsin Monastery. Historian Kirakos Gandzaketsi gives the most accurate information about the monastic complex. The first time construction workers come to this remote area is in the 10th century but it is in the 13th century that we see important structures being built. The best building here is the refectory, which was designed by the architect Minas in 1248. Haghartsin Monastery fell into the property of Prince Zakare and Ivane Dalgarouk, who were close with Georgian Queen Tamara. Therefore, Haghartsin enjoyed Armenian and Georgian protection until the Mongol invasions.
The other structures at Haghartsin include the St. Gregory’s Church (10th c.) and the Church of the Holy Mother of God (1281), where there is a relief sculpture on the façade of two clergymen holding a miniature church in their hands and a dove above them. The Church of the Holy Mother of God is the main church of the complex. St. Stephen’s Church (1244) is the smallest in size compared to the rest.
Remnants of a kitchen are visible near the refectory and cross stones are strewn left and right. Two of the cross stones have inscriptions on them that read “King Smbat” on one and “This is the grave of King Gagik” on the other. The name Haghartsin is related to the eagles that fly over this area, literally meaning “playing eagles”.