The astounding Geghard Monastery is a medieval spiritual and cultural center built in the Kotayk province of Armenia. The monastery complex was built in 4th century by Grigor Lusavorich (Gregory the Illuminator). However, the main chapel was built in 1215.
Originally, the monastery was built inside a cave and, therefore, it was called Ayrivank (mean: “The monastery of the cave). Today the monastery is commonly known as Geghardavank, which means “The Monastery of spear”. The origin comes from the spear, which wounded Jesus during the Crucifixion. They say the spear was brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude and stored among other relics. Currently, it is preserved in the Echmiadzin treasury.
The giant towering cliffs around the monastery make a part of the Azat River Gorge. All of them with the monastery complex are included in the World Heritage Site list. Some of the churches of the complex are dug out of the cliff rock while others are elaborate structures. This splendid combination of cliffs and churches with a number of engraved and free-standing khachkars make a unique sight worthy to visit.
Almost all visitors to Geghard also visit the pagan Temple of Garni. Visiting these two sites in one trip has become so common, that people often refer to them as a union, Garni-Geghard.