Devil’s Bridge, Big Desert of Tatev, Tandzatap Village and Tatev Monastery

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Devil’s Bridge, Big Desert of Tatev, Tandzatap Village and Tatev Monastery is a 15.9 kilometer lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Tatev, Kotayk', Armenia that features a river. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking.

DISTANCE
15.9 km
ELEVATION GAIN
768 m
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

hiking

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

historic site

This hike begin at the Devil’s Gorge and leads to the Big Desert of Tatev, on the bank of the Vorotan River. Climbing up the Gorge you can admire splendid views, in a trail surrounded by vineyards, pear and apple orchards (which can be enjoyed in the autumn). Reaching Tandzatav village and passing through the narrow streets, the hike leads out of the village and over an old bridge, to the medieval Tatev Monastery (which was and is still considered the largest spiritual and cultural center of the Syunik province). The route returns via Tatev village. Several important places located on the way, but not included in the route, are also worth visiting: Noravank (Yeghegnadzor), Zorats Karer (Sisian), the Wings of Tatev ropeway (Halidzor village), and the Tatev Monastery. It is advisable to take these trails from the same area. From Tatev village, for instance, there are B&Bs and other forms of accommodation where overnight stays and meals can be organized. For a magnificent view of the Aramazd and Bargushat mountain ranges, try the B&B located behind the St Minas church. Devil's Bridge, located 150m above the Vorotan river, is considered one of the natural wonders of Armenia. It is a natural “roof” that overhangs the frantic waters beneath. The Gorge, with two steep yellow-red slopes, stretches down to meet the edges of the bridge. The cliffs are so close to each other that they create just a narrow corridor, 180-200 meters in width. There are mineral springs on and around the Bridge, which exert 500-600 thousand liters of water per day, at a temperature of 25°C. The travertine pillars accumulated under the bridge are created by soluble calcium and other salt types that fall into the mineral waters in the depth of the bridge. For centuries, people used this water for various purposes, especially for the treatment of rheumatic diseases. Formerly, at a loss for an explanation of its geological processes, locals simply considered it the devil's deed, giving this formation its name. Big Desert of Tatev (Big Hermitage of Tatev) is a medieval Armenian monastery on the Vorotan riverbank. It is one of the most valuable complexes of the late Middle Ages. Before becoming a great religious and educational center in the XVII century, it played a military role in the XVIII century during the liberation struggle organized by Davit Bek. The monastery was built after the destruction of the Harants desert (located on the southern side of the same gorge). In 1660, the Religious Order there moved to a new place and built the Big Desert of Tatev. Tall rectangular walls surround the Big Desert of Tatev. On the southwest of the Desert is Surb Astvatsatsin, a church made of polished basalt in 1,663. Beside it is a narthex-hall (built by Melik Yegan in 1743) and a domed small mausoleum (the likely burial ground of the Desert’s founder, Aristakes Vardapet). On the east side of the church is a spring and semi-ruined buildings, while on the south stands the refectory with its kitchen, and some living quarters. In the yard there is another group of residential rooms. Tandzatap is a village located by the Vorotan river, in the Aghandzuget river gorge. Tatev Monastery is a IV century complex that was once a religious and cultural center. In the 8th century, it was named after Eustateus (Tateos) - Thaddeus apostle’s pupil, who preached Christianity in Syunik and was martyred there. In the 14th century, the Tatev monastery was one of the centers of Armenian culture, wherein a painting school, library and University operated. Between 1381-1387, during Tamerlane's invasion of Syunik, Tatev monastery was robbed and burned, losing a considerable portion of its estates. In the late Middle Ages, a gavit (narthex) and a belfry were built on the western side of the large temple. The school of Tatev survived until the 20th century until it was destroyed at the beginning of the century (and later found during excavations in 1981-1982). In 1974-1998 the complex was entirely reconstructed. After completing the construction of the Tatev monastery, the stonemason master required two sliver planers from the workers. Upon receiving them, the master kissed them each and said, “Let the Holy Spirit give us wings” (“ta tev” in Armenian). Suddenly, wings grew on his shoulders and the master flew away. The workers, who were unable to remove the existing wooden supports without the master, eventually learned that the master was in Constantinople, and sent someone to fetch him. The master refused to return and simply explained the way to take them off. Thus, the monastery gained its name - Tatev, the way the master pronounced it.