Tatev Monastery is a very walled complex located in the southeast of Armenia, not far from the city of Goris in Syunik province. It was founded in the 9th century and soon thereafter, became the political center of Syunik. By the 10th century, Tatev had a population of 1000 and presided over several surrounding villages.
The Gavazan (“Cane”) monument, erected in 904 near the dwelling premises of the monastery, is a unique work of architectural engineering. It is an 8-meter pillar built of small stones crowned with a khachkar. Because of seismic tremors, the pillar would tilt and then return to its initial position. Today, the ancient scientific tool is no longer functional and is bolted together with metal straps.
Tatev’s strategic location, perched high atop a steep cliff, made it almost impossible for enemies to penetrate. To this day, accessing the mighty fortress is quite a feat. The bumpy, winding dirt road scaling up the hill towards Tatev is an adventure in itself. Make sure you go to Tatev during the warmer months, in a relatively sturdy vehicle. The road closes when it gets icedover in the winter.