Haghartsin monastery complex is one of the magnificent and mysterious structures of the ancient Armenian history, which, despite periodic invasions of various enemies, has been nestled stubbornly and proudly for more than ten centuries in the gorge, surrounded by deep forests in the region of Tavush. Besides finely decorated and spacious vestibules and hospitable refectory, the complex is historically famous for its burial tombs and sepulcher of Kyurikyan kings. The foundation of the oldest St. Gregory church dates back to the 10th century.
The monks who hardly survived and fled from Byzantine Western Armenia as a legacy handed down to coming generations a doomed marvelous chapel with cruciform interior and rectangular arches, which due to Seljuk Turks ceaseless sieges was severely damaged in the 12th century. Nonetheless, it raised like a Phoenix out of the ashes with the support of the Georgian king George III and the Armenian princes in 1182.
At the end of the same century the complex reached its peak of prosperity and became a spiritual and cultural center of the northern-eastern Armenia, thanks to the efforts of master Sukias and master of Taronatsi Khachatur, who was also the musician, scholar and monk. Then Prince Ivane Zakarian’s vassals, Atanes and Artavazd, supported and built not only adjacent chapel and narthex near St. Gregory Church, but also places for burial.
St Stephanos doomed church, a small-sized replica of St. Gregory, was built in blue basalt in 1244 to the east of the church. In the 11th century the magnificent architectural ensemble was completed with the dominance of splendid ornaments and additional structures of St Holy Mother church, which was restored and renovated repeatedly after various destructions over the centuries. In the area close to Haghartsin there are a lot of delicately cut crosses and chapels.
The final and complete appearance of the complex along with the hospitable refectory, a masterpiece of medieval architecture, was designed and embellished by the talented architect Minas. Not far from it, modern-day archaeologists excavated the 350-kilogram bronze boiler, dated the year of 1232 and at present, it is kept in the State History Museum of Armenia. The complex which is an evidence for the patriotic origins of ancient high-class architecture is the focus of the Armenian Government, and the large-scale restoration works were last carried out in 2012.
One can also enjoy the unique and wonderful nature of Dilijan when visiting Haghartzin.