Tatev Monastery and Old Harjis

MODERATE 1 reviews

Tatev Monastery and Old Harjis is a 12.7 kilometer moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Tatev, Kotayk', Armenia that features a river. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding.

DISTANCE
12.7 km
ELEVATION GAIN
878 m
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

historic site

Overview This hike is located in the Syunik province. Departing from the Tatev Monastic Complex, it winds through the narrow streets of Tatev village and forest. From there it descends to the Vorotan estuary and follows it through the canyon until it becomes a lake, where swimming is allowed. Old Harjis village is located 3.5 km above the canyon, with its old roads and an ancient stone bridge built high on the mountains to the left. Inhabitants of the village tell stories of pilgrims and traders that journeyed on these roads long ago. While following the canyon’s path to New Harjis,this unique trail brings together stunning natural beauty and the forgotten village of Old Harjis. The village is full of ruins, with their abandoned walls sprouting weeds and their roofs covered in a thick layer of grass. Cliffs to the east and the Vorotan River to the south enclose the area. There are a number of other highly recommended trails around the Syunik province. There are B&Bs and other forms of accommodation in Tatev, ideal for planning longer stays and experiencing the area in more depth.Staying in the guesthouse located behind St. Minas Church, in the center of Tatev village, the marvelous scenery of Mount Aramazd and the Bargushat Mountain Chain can be enjoyed. En route to the trail there are also some other important sights such as Noravank Monastery in Yeghegnadzor, Zorats Karer in Sisian, the Tatev Ropeway in Halidzor/Tatev, and the Devil’s Bridge at the bottom of the Vorotan gorge. New and Old Harjis are villages in the Syunik province of Armenia, located 79 km to the north of the center of the province, Kapan, on the left bank of the Vorotan River, at an altitude of 1,700-1,730 m. The closest city is Goris, at 24 km.The easiest path leading from the village to the Vorotan Canyon descends to the west of the cliff, and is comfortably covered by foot. The villagers used to be engaged in cattle-breeding and cultivation, and would actively trade with the travelers on the important roads leading to Nakhijevan, Karabakh and Gardman. In the mid 18th century, Turks from the Upper Kirder region had intentions to capture Harjis, but they were afraid of its brave chief. In the evening, they invited him to dinner, got him drunk, and left him in a slumber. In the morning, he woke up, went outside and looked in the direction of Harjis only to see smouldering houses, his village burned. He died on the spot of a heart attack. Only two people were saved, a young girl and boy; the former settled in the nearby Halidzor village, the latter was sold to Turks in Nakhijevan. A priest followed his tracks, found him and returned the boy to Tatev Monastery. The boy, Ghukas, matured and though the initial idea was for him to become a friar, the priest changed his mind, saying that as his home village was now deserted, they should start it anew through him. Instead of taking him back to Old Harjis, they built a church (St. Minas) and a rock-hewn house (Hambu ghab) into the base of the cliff. Ghukas married a girl from Tatev and around their new home grew a village, Yayji, a natural hiding place visible neither from plateau, nor from the road near the Vorotan River. In 1931, an earthquake flattened the village, fortunately without human casualties. Flora The river’s melody, rustling leaves, starry sky, intoxicating scent of plants and other sounds of nature will definitely leave an unforgettable impression of this place. The hike crosses through oak and hornbeam forests, where hawthorn, brier, wild pear, wild apple, maple and elm trees also grow. The Vorotan River, the largest river of the Zangezur region, flows through the Harjis Canyon. The vast Vorotan Canyon is quite well-known in the Caucasus, with a depth of almost 800 m. The “Sosi and Zangezur” and “Shikahogh” reserves are also in this region. Within them are a number of other valuable and unique species, such as Greek walnut, Araks oak, Greek Silk vine, and velvety spindle tree. A number of species of fir grow near Harjis. Fauna Brown bears, wolves, foxes, porcupines, moles, seven species of lizards, eight species of snakes, and two species of turtles are often seen in the area. Lizards (including the shy European snake-eyed skin), cat snakes and Transcaucasian snakes are uncommon but not unheard of. The song of forest magpies and black thrushes will accompany hikers during the whole length of the trail. Other species of bird living here are eagles, large and small titmice, chaffinches,the blackhead, mountain and garden heaven-keepers and the corn bunting.