3902, Tavush Region, Republic of Armenia
The Bagratuni dynasty founded Haghartsin Monastery in the 10th century. It is 18 km north of the town of Dilijan, Tavush Region. According to historian Kirakos Gandzaketsi, the monastery was built in the 10th -13th century. The complex includes four churches: Saint Grigor (1244), Saint Astvatsatsin (1281), Saint Katoghike (12th century) and Saint Stephanos (1232), as well as two courtyards, refectory, prayer halls and khachkars (cross-stones).
The oldest church Saint Grigor has a domed cross-shaped structure. The monastery was built in the place of a pagan temple. Near the church is the courtyard built by Ivane Zakarian. There is an ancient khachkar called “Tevavor” which still has the spots of “vordan karmir” colour.
The main church of Haghartsin monastery is Saint Astvatsatsin. According to the inscription on the southern entrance, the church was built in 1281. There are the remains of a destroyed building in front of the western entrance. Under the church, there is a hidden room and a hollow column to hide artefacts and a secret tunnel that led down to the river, used during a siege for access to water or escape.
The refectory of the monastery built by architect Minas in 1248 is one of the best examples of Armenian medieval architecture. It has 12 columns that symbolize the 12 apostles of Christ. There are also several shrines on the cliffs in the area of the monastery which date back to the 5th-7th centuries.