Geghard is a medieval monastery in the Kotayk province of Armenia. Being partially carved out of the adjacent mountain namely it is surrounded by cliffs. Geghard Monastery is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site with enhanced protection status.
While the main chapel of the Geghard Monastery was built in 1215, the monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator. Thus the monastery was built at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave it had been originally named Ayrivank, meaning «the Monastery of the Cave». The name commonly used for the monastery today, Geghard, or more fully Geghardavank. Its meaning «the Monastery of the Spear», originates from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucificaxion. Allegedly the spear was brought to Armenia by Apostole Jude, called here Thaddeus. Now it is displayed in the Etchmiadzin treasury.
Towering cliffs surrounding the monastery contributed to a spectacular view of the monastery. The cliffs are part of the Azat river gorge, and are included together with the monastery in the World Heritage Site listing.
When visiting Geghard also visit the nearby pagan Temple of Garni, located further down the Azat River.
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