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The village of Tatev with the monastery by the same name is located atop a plateau above the right bank of the Vorotan River 26 kilometers southwest of the city of Goris. In the previous times it belonged to the Tsghouk region of the province of Siunik.

The monastery was one of the most important spiritual and cultural centers of Armenia, which owned and controlled a large sum of property. It had 47 villages in its jurisdiction and 677 villages of Siunik paid a church excise Tax to it.

The monastery was founded in the 4th century becoming a premier educational center from the 5th-8th centuries and finally became the seat of the Bishop of Siunik at the end of the 8th century. The monastery began to flourish during the 9th century when Bishop David bought the surrounding land from Prince Philippe of Siunik in 839. The village of Tatev was also acquired in 844 and remains under the ownership of the monastery until the middle of the 19th century. By gradually expanding its ownership of land in Siunik and amassing enormous wealth, the monastery gained the opportunity to increase its construction work as well as turn itself into a major spiritual and cultural center.

At the end of the 9th century, all of the old buildings of the monastery were demolished in order to make room for new structures. Main construction work took place in the 9th-11th, 13th, 17th-18th centuries. St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral (895-906), the staff-column (895) the narthex (1043), the Chapel of the Holy Mother of God (1087), St. Gregory’s Church (1295) St.Gregory Tatevatsi’s tomb-chapel (1787), numerous residential and auxiliary buildings, workshop, etc. were built during various periods. The monastery was surrounded with protective walls and towers tuning it into a monastery-fortress. During the 11th century over 1000 clergymen and craftsmen worked at the monastery. The Eparchy became economically so powerful that from 940-950 it tried to claim independence from the authority of the Mother See and even the villages under its jurisdiction insurrected against it (10th-11th cc.). The Eparchy ceased to exist after 1837. But during its existence, the monastery was the target of many attacks by foreign conquerors that destroyed many of its structures and pillaged much of its riches. Another destroying factor was the numerous earthquakes over the centuries especially the last one in 1931.

Tatev Monastery was one of the premier Armenian cultural and educational centers. Many important theologians lived and worked there. It had a famous school of manuscripts and a working library until 1912.

Tatev Monastery

Tatev Monastery

During the past decade, the Monastery complex has undergone renovation where most of the main structures have been reconstructed and refurbished.

Many historical architectural and monuments can be found in and around the village including St. Minas’ Church (1646), the fountain structure (1745), the hermit’s monastery (17th c.), Tsouravank Monastery (10th c.), the bridge (17th c.) village ruins, cemeteries with cross stones (khachkars) and others.

Related articles:

  1. Zorats Karer – Tatev Monastery
  2. Areni
  3. Goris
  4. Haghpat
  5. Dsegh

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