The Geghard Monastery complex is a medieval structure, where the main church, Katoghike, was built in 1215. A relief carving of a lion trampling a bull, a symbol of authority, is in relief carved above the entrance of the church.
Two rivers, the Azad and the Karni, flow through the cave floor of Geghard. The architectural jewel, Geghard arises out of the center of the cave. According to 4th century historians, the cave was named Ayrivank. An inscription carved above the entrance of St. Gregory’s Church within the monastery, which was built in the 12th century, chronicles this same fact.
An Armenian sculptor by the name of Galdzak carved two entire churches from an enormous cliff. The monastery was originally called Ayrivank, but in the same century, the monastery was given the honor of guarding the Geghard. The Geghard was the spearhead used to wound Christ upon the cross by the Roman soldier and was considered sacred. Hence the monastery took its new name from the spearhead.
According to tradition, the great conqueror Tamerlane, reached Geghard Monastery after triumphing over half of the world. Tamerlane was informed that the seven most precious diamonds in Armenia were kept there. The conqueror decides that he would capture these diamonds himself. He peaked through one of the crevices of the carved cliff. A glimmering light appeared inside the dark church. Entering the church, he reached for the glimmering light but the light disappeared immediately. He returned to the entrance and the light started to twinkle again. He tried over and over to take the diamonds, but in vain. Tamerlane snickered and said that man must only see and pass the diamond glimmering church of the Armenians. From then on, foreigners called the church the Church to See and Pass.
But what was that glimmering light? The architect sculptor had placed a moving stone within the walls of the church, which would open a crack and let in a ray of light at noon. The ray of light gave the effect of twinkling diamonds within the dark church.
Geghard Monastery has been a great center of culture. Centuries have gone by and many cities have been destroyed in Armenia. But Geghard has remained standing for 8 centuries as a symbol of triumph for humanity and nature thanks to the talents and strengths of man.