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A Guide To Visiting Goris And Tatev Monastery

 Tatev is probably the most famous monastery in Armenia. Below you can find a guide to Goris and visiting Tatev monastery.

 

Goris is quite possibly the most stunning city in Armenia and is the base from where to travel to Tatev monastery. The city alone is nothing special–it’s all about location, location, location. The city is encircled by mountains, some of which rise up right from the city’s perimeter.

Below you can find a guide to visiting Goris, Armenia. This guide to Goris includes things to do in Goris, where to stay in Goris, and how to get from Goris to Tatev Monastery.

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - The city of Goris, Armenia from the top of a mountain.

Goris from above, a most acceptable view we’d say.

 

Things to do in Goris, Armenia

Visiting Old Goris

The mountains around Goris are covered in towering limestone spires, chock-full of cave dwellings. The cave-city complex is known as “Old Goris”, as the caves used to serve as homes until the 18th century… or so the guides say. Though many of the caves are now bare, there’s still a decent number of resourceful people that have built modern day houses up against the spires, so they can continue to make use of the caves. You can literally see the past meeting the present as you wander throughout the rocky outcrops.

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - Houses built next to caves in the rocky spires of Goris, Armenia

Cave people of Goris, 2016 A.D.

You can easily spend an entire day just wandering among the rocks along the edges of the city. We did encounter some kind of marked path in one or two places, but it’s not really necessary. There are ridges to troop along all over the mountainsides, thanks to years and years of people and various hoofed creatures wandering along the slopes.

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - Rocky spires on the edge of the city of Goris, Armenia

Spires, spires, everywhere.

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - Checking out the caves in Old Goris in Goris, Armenia

Checking out the abandoned cave estate. Could work with a little TLC, but the ceilings were a bit too low for modern-day humans…

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - Running around on the mountains of Goris, Armenia

Be careful running around on the top of the mountain–it’s a steep drop, and there’s not much in the way of decent paths once you climb up high enough.

Pro tip: if you have a chance to buy a bottle of wine while passing through Areni, home of one of the oldest wineries in the world, save it for Goris and go for a super epic picnic atop the mountain! It’s a great (and cheap) way to spend the afternoon. Just be careful not to fall over the edge when you’re stumbling down the mountain 😉

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - Picnicking in the mountains of Goris, Armenia

An epic picnic for an epic location. And by “epic picnic”… we mean wine and pretzels. We are on a budget, after all!

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - The old cave city of Goris, Armenia

Wine-ing and winding our way down the mountain.

 

Visit the museum of Axel Bakounts

Granted, we don’t really go to museums much. But if you’re interested in Armenian poetry, this museum might just be for you. Axel Bakounts was a controversial figure, spending time in jail for his mocking of the mayor of Goris, and ultimately murdered in 1937 by Stalinist’s. His museum is set in a lovely villa with a timber veranda.

Visiting Tatev Monastery

Tatev Monatery is Armenia’s most famous site–an old monastery on a plateau overlooking a vast gorge. Many people solely travel to Armenia to visit Tatev monastery.

Some quick facts: its construction began in the 9th century, it used to house one of the most important medieval monasteries of Armenia, and is now marginally more famous because it’s at the end of the longest cable car line in the world, which clocks in at 6 kilometers.

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - The Wings of Tatev, the longest cable car in the world, near Goris, Armenia

The view from the Wings of Tatev, the longest cable car in the world.

But all you need to know for now is that Tatev is most definitely, undeniably, the tits. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - Tatev monastery from above, a great success! Good thing we figured out how to get Tatev from Goris, Armenia

The view: 10/10

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - A woman praying in the dark and cool interior of Tatev monastery in Armenia.

A moment of serenity inside Tatev.

How to get to Tatev Monastery from Goris

To get to Tatev, we recommend you take a taxi to the Wings of Tatev, the Guinness World Record-listed 5.7km cable car starting in Halidzor. It’s also possible to take a car/taxi up to the monastery, but the cable car offers much more epic views… and cheesy music combined with overly posh British narration as you soar through the skies.

A taxi to Halidzor from Goris cost about 2500 AMD one-way. A ride on the Wings of Tatev isn’t cheap, at 5500/7000 AMD one/two-way as of April 2019, but the views are definitely worth it.

Getting back to Goris from Tatev

We opted for a one-way ticket and hiked most of the way back to the base station of the cable car, from where we took a taxi back to Goris. The walk was a very hilly and zig-zagging 10km. If you’re walking, be sure to stock up on water before embarking on your mountainous voyage. We forgot to (derp), and it was a struggle.

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - Admiring the view on the way back to Goris from Tatev monastery in Armenia.

Taking in the view? Or exhausted from dehydration? You decide.

The walk, though long, is worth your while. You pass a series of pools near a feature called Devil’s Bridge that you can theoretically swim in (if you dare). You’ll also get a view of some abandoned monastic cloisters, and pass a Lord of the Rings-like watchtower atop another mountain.

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - Water pools at Devil's Bridge near Tatev monastery in Armenia

Nothing like crystal clear, scum green water to take a refreshing dip in, eh eh?

The views from the watchtower, about 3/4 of the way back to Halidzor, are epic, and completely justified our trek. Not that justification was necessary–we’re die-hard hikers, so walking that far was no big deal. /sarcasm

How to get to Tatev from Goris, Armenia - Harsnadzor Watchtower near Tatev monastery in Armenia.

The Harsnadzor watchtower, with clear views to Tatev. Not sure if necessary given Tatev’s strategic location, but so be it.

If you’re not interested in the long slog back, just lurk for a while around the Tatev complex. As the day goes on, there will be a decent number of taxis driving to/from the area, as well as a few enterprising Armenians that will be happy to pretend they are taxis for a short while.

Goris and Tatev are definitely in my top three favorite sites of Armenia (the other two being Haghpat monastery and Yerevan, Armenia’s capital city). If you ever visit the country, make sure to make the time stop by–you’ll be glad you did.

Where to stay in Goris, Armenia

Goris is a great base to visit Tatev monastery from. It’s also in a beautiful location, and we recommend taking a day or two to relax and enjoy nature.

And so end our guide to visiting Goris and Tatev Monastery. Let us know in the comments if you have any more questions.

 

 

A romp through the rocky spires of Old Goris in southern Armenia, and a trip to the famous Tatev monastery. Includes information on how to get to Tatev from Goris

 

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