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Garni Visitor Center to Havuts Tar Monastery

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Khosrov Forest State Reserve

Garni Visitor Center to Havuts Tar Monastery is a 3.1 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Gilanlar, Ararat, Armenia that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until November. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Length 3.1 mi Elevation gain 774 ft Route type Out & Back

Kid friendly



Horseback riding

Mountain biking


Bird watching




Wild flowers


Historic site

Waypoints (0)

This trail passes through the picturesque canyon of Azat River in Garni district. It can be passed on foot or by horses. This hiking trail brings you to Havuts Tar Monastery which was a remarkable cultural and religious center of medieval Armenia. The monastery was established in 11th century being especially active in the period between 12th and 14th centuries. There are the following explanations of the establishment and the name of the monastery. According to a legend, the name of Havuts Tar, that means ‘’bird flight’’, is connected to an Armenian priest who healed Lenk Temur that attacked Armenia. For payment, he asked the invader to release as many prisoners as could enter the church, and when the prisoners entered the church, the priest converted them into birds. The monastery has also the name of St. Rescue, as here was the remarkable holy crucifixion rescue cross-stone. In the name, according to another interpretation, the word "hav" is used in the meaning of "grandfather" or "ancestor" in the Armenian language, by which "Havuts Tar" is considered to be the seat of two great Armenians; Sahak Partev and Mesrop Mashtots. Another explanation says that the monastery got its name from a village spreading around it, which ruins remained and can be found until today. Therefore, it should not be exclude that the term "Havuts Tar" existed much earlier than the foundation of the monastery, because the picturesque hills covered with dark green, on which the monastery was built, could be called "Havuts Tar" as a place of bird flight. It was a cathedral and had its special diocese, which also included the city of Yerevan which means that the head of Havuts Tar at the same time was the head of Yerevan. Besides being an important educational center Havuts Tar was a well-known center for manuscript creation as well, and the oldest known manuscript created here dates from 1214 AD. In 1013, Grigor Magistros constructed Surb Amenaprikich (St. Rescue) church in this complex referred to the Early Middle Ages. The walls of the main church are built with diverse color scheme using fine processed red toned local tuff stone and are rich of carved texts. The cupola and the roof are destroyed. From Southern side there are two nave chapels (now ruined). It was badly damaged during the 1679’s earthquake. Portions of the complex were rebuilt in the early 18th century by the Catholicos Astvatsatur Hamadantsi, and some restoration efforts took place in the early 20th century. Currently the monastery is in ruins.

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Melissa E.
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The hike itself is entirely on a rutted old road with maybe four or five spots of shade... avoid doing during the heat of the day. Also costs 3000AMD for foreigners; thing is, there are many stunning monasteries in the country and I’m not sure Hayuts Tar was worth the 3000 nor the hike itself. Also, definitely start at Garni Temple, not the Visitor Centre, which adds an extra 2km of road walking. Around Garni Temple, you’ll see the columnar basalts which are amazing, and make up 2/3 stars of this review!