We were looking forward to glide over the valley in a gondola to reach the Tatev Monastry on the other side. What we didn’t know, the “Aerial Tramway” doesn’t run on a Monday. My guide book said, that there is a good road down into the valley to the Devils Bridge, but the steep way up is just gravel, which didn’t sound very promising. But as we had no other option we took the road, and fortunately the book was wrong. There is a perfect road going up, with many narrow hairpins, but nothing problematic. We noticed that even trucks from Iran use this route as a shortcut.
The monastery was founded in the 9th century and hosted one of the most important Armenian medieval universities.
In the 14th century, fortifications were built to the south, west and north of the monastery with buildings for habitation, administration and other purposes. In the 18th century, additions were made to house the bishop’s residence, cells for the monks, storage, dining hall, kitchen, bakery and winery. Sixteen rectangular classrooms, covered with arched ceilings, were built along the main fortifications.
At the narrowest part of the gorge, the water flows through a natural tunnel, forming the Devil’s Bridge which is 60m wide and the perfect place to cross the river. In the gorge there are natural basins and stalactites and the water in the gorge is said to have healing powers. In summer people would come here to take a bath.
Tatev was our most southern point in Armenia, and we are now on our way north in direction to lake Sewan. On the way we took a bumpy road to another monastery and a hike to a medieval bridge. More on our next post!